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The Unintended Benefits of East Africa’s Locust Invasion

Kenya is facing its worst plagues of locusts in decades. Since December 2019, huge swarms have caused devastation across east Africa. Erratic weather patterns aggravated by the climate crisis have caused locust numbers to surge. Crops and grazing land have been stripped, leaving countries battling to avoid a food crisis. The Bug Picture, a pioneering agricultural startup, is working with communities in Kenya to test harvesting and processing the insects for farmers to use as animal feed and fertiliser. Laura Stanford, founder of The Bug Picture, says she was inspired by a project in Pakistan, which paid farmers to trap locusts that were then turned into high-protein animal feed. The Bug Picture pays 32p for every kilo of the insects harvested. Very large swarms can extend over 2,400 sq km – an area the size of Luxembourg – and can contain nearly 200bn insects. In the first 18 days of February, 1.3 tons of locusts were harvested as part of the project – worth a year’s wages in much of Kenya.