Additional Aircraft to Join Fight Against Locusts

Additional Aircraft to Join Ethiopia’s Fight against Locusts

ADDIS ABABA – Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) will handover additional aircraft to Ethiopia locusts have been causing massive agricultural and environmental damage.

“The UN agency has pledged to give us another airplane in the coming three or four days,” said Abera Lemma, spokesperson of Ministry of Agriculture.

He said it will give experts on the field more power in their fight against locust swarm which is country’s worst infestation in 25 years.

The insects, which eat their own body weight in food every day, are breeding so fast numbers could grow four hundredfold by June, according to reports.

Aerial and ground spraying combined with constant tracking of the swarms are viewed as the most effective strategies.

But Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa says aircrafts were in short supply.

FAO last week announced it would lease aircraft and helicopter to scale up the aerial desert locust control operations in Ethiopia.

Currently, Ethiopia is using six airplanes for spraying and surveying while its officials at the ministry say they needs over 8 aircraft sprayer to control the aggressive spread of locusts in the country.

Apart from the aircraft, the UN agency has also donated operational vehicles and spraying machines to Ministry of Agriculture to support its effort to control the spread of the infestation.

The latest donations are part of FAO’s pledge to avail 20 motorized spray materials and 30 pickup cars to support the ministry’s operation.

These cars will be key in the operation to control the desert locust invasion, said Sani Redi, state minister of agriculture, during a handover event on Tuesday.

Locust swarm, that originally migrated from the Arabian Peninsula, are currently affecting large parts of Amhara, Afar, Somali, as well as some part of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples regional states of Ethiopia, according to FAO.

By Mhret G/Kristos