Locust plague may spread to North Africa as swarms form in Chad

Locusts will probably spread to North Africa in coming weeks as swarms form in Chad and are about to gather in Mali and Niger after summer rains, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said.

The FAO has alerted Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania to prepare for the arrival of desert locust swarms, the Rome- based agency wrote in an e-mailed statement today. The conflict in Mali, which has asked for international military assistance to help it deal with an Islamist occupation of the country’s northern region, makes it unlikely all locust infestations there will be found and treated, the FAO said.

“Prevailing winds and historical precedents make it likely the swarms, once formed, will fly to Algeria, Libya, southern Morocco and northwestern Mauritania,” Keith Cressman, the FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, was cited as saying in the statement. “Once there, they could damage pastures and subsistence rain-fed crops.”

Signs of the Times

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