Addis Abeba – Tigray’s Agriculture Bureau has said that locust swarms are threatening the livelihoods of farmers yet to recover from impacts of the two years’ war in three districts in Northwestern Tigray.
The districts namely Seyemti Adyabo, Tahtay Adyabo and Gemehalo have recently seen invasion of a tree locust called Anacridium sp, according to Mebrahtom Gebrekidan, crop protection director at the bureau.
According to Mebrahtom, after receiving reports from the local administrations last week, the bureau sent out a team and confirmed the locust swarms, but hasn’t been able to do much to help “due to lack of logistics and resources in relation to the current situation of the region”.
Mebrahtom said “we are informing the residents to use traditional methods to fight the swarms off”, adding that the districts are partially under occupation of Eritrean forces limiting the bureau to assess the scale of the swarm.
Ashenafi Kiros, crop and horticulture development coordinator at Seyemti Adyabo district told Addis Standard that the locusts started to appear in the area on 12 March crossing the border from Eritrea.
Ashenafi said the locusts are already destroying wild fruits locally known as Gaba, Chiea, Mekie etc that the people use as alternative source food in the face of staggering food insecurity in the region which is caused by the war.
He expressed his concerns that the locust in addition to other plants used as animal fodder may also destroy crops that the farmers are currently sowing and exacerbate the food insecurity. He added that there is no access to chemicals to spray, and locals are using traditional methods such as smokes, guns etc. to fight the locust swarms.
Tigray’s Agriculture Bureau said it has reported the occurrence of locust invasion to the concerned bodies such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In January 2020, desert locusts had infested more than 2 350 km2 of land across the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Tigray, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) regional states, as well as in Dire Dawa city in 125 Woredas (districts). According to the UN about one million individuals in Ethiopia had been affected by the invasion and were in need of emergency food assistance in 2020. AS