- The desert locust situation is "continuing to improve in North-West Africa," according to the latest reports by the UN. Locusts had failed to breed in Mauritania and Western Sahara. Therefore, new swarms are not expected to reach the Maghreb countries of Morocco and Algeria this spring.
According to reports from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a swarm invasion of the Maghreb region is not expected this spring "because breeding failed to occur in northern Mauritania during the winter." The worst locust upsurge in the Sahel and North Africa in 15 years therefore finally may be coming to an end.
Control operations were also in progress against immature swarms in Algeria and, to a much lesser extent, in Morocco, FAO noted in its latest update, published today. The report showed more optimism than reports last year that warned of a potentially worse crisis than the last plague of 1987-89.
Limited control operations were in progress against immature swarms in Guinea and southern Senegal. Small-scale locust breeding was however underway in north-eastern Sudan near the border with Egypt and control operations were treating small but numerous early hopper bands.
No locusts were reported in Mauritania except for a few scattered immature adults in the south-east, near the border with Mali, the FAO report added. Breeding conditions were "generally unfavourable except for a few localised areas in the north and centre where light rains have fallen."
Enormous and damaging locust swarms have now moved across the Sahara desert for more than one year, destroying harvests and pastures in the Sahel and the Maghreb. Especially Mauritania and Mali have been heavily affected, but there has also been made substantial damage in Morocco, Senegal, Niger and Cape Verde.
During the last few months, the main active locust swarms have operated in the south-western part of the Sahel, in particular in The Gambia, Senegal's Casamance province and Guinea-Bissau. Here, locusts have severely damaged flowering cashew trees and cassava and vegetables fields.
The "Biblical plague" has been massively fought through regional control operations, coordinated by FAO. Millions of hectares have been sprayed with pesticides to avoid a new round of breeding and migrating desert locust swarms. The costly operations have to a great part been financed by the affected countries themselves.
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