RIYADH (Sputnik) – The most devastating plague of locusts in over 30 years is about to hit Africa and the Middle East, according to Rome-based Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman.
The officer, who is employed by Locust Watch, a division of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, cited the organization’s most recent report forecasting that new "extremely alarming” swarms of the insects were forming in the Horn of Africa.
The current widespread breeding in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia represents "an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season,” writes the Locust Watch website.
The Rome-based officer was cited by The Times of Israel as admitting the last time the region faced such a threat was during the locust plague of 1987-1989.
"Starting in early 2020, the global Desert Locust situation deteriorated, as favorable climatic conditions allowed widespread breeding of the pest in East Africa, Southwest Asia, and the area around the Red Sea,” writes the website, pinpointing Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan as the hardest hit countries.
Not all regions of the Middle East will be affected, however, confirmed Cressman.
Locust Watch works in collaboration with affected countries to assess field data, information and reports in real time, said Cressman, adding this is subsequently "combined with analysis of remote sensing (satellite) imagery, weather data and forecasts, and historical data in our geographic information system and database that go back to the 1930s.”
Adding to the impending concerns of the organization, which is tasked with giving emergency assistance to countries struggling with the impact of desert locust invasions, is the current coronavirus pandemic.