I wasn’t expecting to get today’s prompt to work with something about Yemen, but alas even the conflict is affecting the bugs.
Swarms of desert locusts.
A desert locust is a species of locust found in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They can be a threat to agriculture in these areas because a swarm of locusts can eat its weight in plants each day. According to National Geographic, they can eat up to 423 million pounds of food per day.
So, surveys are conducted to track the behavior of locust swarms to see how much of a risk they pose to local agriculture.
Ground teams are sent in to countries affected by desert locust. They check green vegetation, report back their findings, and then conduct control operations if needed. Drones are also used to to check on areas where it has rained and spray the locusts found there. The drones can be more efficient than ground teams and safer too.
What’s happening with the desert locusts in Yemen specifically? Let’s take a look at a recent timeline of events.
April 12, 2016
The presence of relatively large numbers of Desert Locust in Yemen, where conflict is severely hampering control operations, poses a potential threat to crops in the region. Keith Cressman, FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer, explains the situation and its causes. He also gives some key facts about locusts and illustrates the work that is being carried out on the field.
A cyclone in November 2015 dumped a lot of rain on Yemen and it took approximately 4 months for them to learn about the growing locust population on Yemen’s southern coast.
Rainfall + strong winds = ideal breeding conditions for desert locust… aka a swarm.
“Insecurity is hampering the ability of the national locust teams to survey the area, to monitor the situation, to understand what locust populations might be present, and in addition is hampering any control efforts.”
January 25, 2017
The inability to monitor the desert locusts in Yemen can impact the surrounding countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) report posted on Reliefweb, there was an outbreak of desert locust along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
The situation was exacerbated by irregular and incomplete surveys in the past few months as well as the likelihood that adult groups probably arrived from adjacent areas of Yemen.
March 2, 2017
According to the most recent bulletin posted on Reliefweb, no recent surveys have been conducted in Yemen.
The situation remained unclear in Yemen where surveys were not possible in winter breeding areas.
Meanwhile in other countries of the Central Region, the same region as Yemen, surveys and treatments were carried out in Sudan, Somalia, Oman, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
The ability for survey teams to get into Yemen is very important to not only Yemen, but the rest of the region that could be affected by the desert locusts there. Yemen already heavily relies on imports for food so the possibility of a desert locust swarm can make a food insecurity situation even worse.
I never knew any of this existed so thanks, Daily Prompt!