Early warning systems saves IGAD region from another desert locust outbreak

Africa Science News

By Lenah Bosibori

In Kenya, agriculture is a major contributor to the nation’s GDP and employs a large percentage of the population, particularly in rural areas, and is vital for ensuring food and nutrition security. It is also key in reducing poverty and improving living standards of the vulnerable communities.

Despite these major contributions to the economy, transboundary pests such as Desert Locusts, Quelea Birds, Fall Armyworms, and African Armyworms pose a significant threat to agriculture.

The pests devastate crops, leading to substantial yield losses and economic setbacks resulting in food insecurity that affects vulnerable communities, hindering efforts toward sustainable agricultural development.

To address the challenges and Persistent pest outbreaks in the IGAD region, the region has successfully avoided another desert locust outbreak similar to or worse than the one experienced in 2019/2020.

The achievement according to IGAD highlights the crucial role of the Platform in coordinating early warning and early actions, resulting in significant cost savings and reduced use of synthetic pesticides, thereby minimizing negative environmental impacts.

Speaking in Nairobi during a Ministerial Meeting of the Inter-Regional Platform for Sustainable Management of Desert Locusts and Other Transboundary Pests Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu the IGAD Executive Secretary said that the IGAD region witnessed the catastrophic impact of climate change that led to unprecedented rainfall in 2019.

“Despite favorable ecological and weather conditions during the rainy season of October, November, and December 2023, the region successfully avoided another desert locust outbreak similar to or worse than the one experienced in 2019/2020,” said Dr Gebeyehu.

He adds that the rains triggered by El Niño, resulted in one of the most severe desert locust outbreaks in recent history, destroying vast tracts of our agricultural land. This crisis was a stark reminder of the imperative for a unified regional strategy.

The three day meeting brought together Director DLCO-EA, Head of MDAs from various counties, Representatives of international partners, Distinguished Ministers, Representatives of IGAD, Member States, Experts in Agriculture and Pest Management.

Further the upcoming Steering Committee and Ministerial Meetings on Transboundary Pest Management, organized by the Inter-Regional Platform for Managing Transboundary Pests will aim to address the significant threats to food security posed by transboundary pests.

They will facilitate international collaboration, align policies across borders, and enhance our understanding of the impact of climate change on pest dynamics

On his part, the Cabinet secretary, ministry of Agriculture and Livestock development said in a speech read by Jonathan Mueke the principal secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, State Department for Livestock Development said that the challenges posed by pests are significant and need a multisectoral approach.

“The challenges posed by transboundary pests are significant, but by working together, we can develop and implement strategies that will protect our agriculture and secure our food systems. Your expertise and insights are invaluable to these discussions, and I am confident that our collective efforts will yield meaningful and impactful outcomes,” read part of his speech.

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