“There also other countries at risk, especially South Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea…,” said Bukar Tijani, assistant director general of the agency’s agriculture and consumer protection department.
The agencysaid at least one locust swarm had already been seen in Eritrea, and several had also been sighted in Oman and Yemen.
Even before the locust invasion, some 11 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya were experiencing food insecurity, and the swarms will worsen the situation, the agencysaid.
“Therefore, we need to make all possible efforts to avoid such a deterioration,” said Dominique Burgeon, director of the agency’sEmergencies and Rehabilitation Division, during a visit to Samburu and Kitui counties, two of 15 affected regions in Kenya.
“We know that these locusts … can create massive devastation, not only in terms of crops but also in terms of pasture and therefore affecting the livelihoods of the pastoralist communities … The only solution that works is aerial spraying [of pesticides].”
Esther Kithuka, a farmer in Mwingi in eastern Kenya’s Kitui County, said she was worried the locusts would destroy their crops, and that another plantingseason due to start in April would be too short for any meaningful production.
“We depend a lot on this season and we worry that the locusts will destroy our harvest and we will end up remaining hungry through the rest of the year waiting for October for the next cropping season,” she said.