Cereal production in the Sahel region will not be affected significantly this year, despite large-scale Desert Locust infestations, but a combination of drought and locusts have led to severe damage to crops, pasture and legumes in many rural communities.
The situation is mainly critical in Mauritania, where locusts continue to destroy crops and where the damage could get worse.
These are the initial findings of crop assessment missions to nine states, jointly conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).
Although many locust swarms are still present in Mauritania and Niger, pressure from the pests is gradually easing in Mali and Senegal. The locusts are moving towards northwest Mauritania and Western Sahara, and a growing number of swarms have reached Morocco and Algeria where intense ground and aerial control operations are under way, FAO said in a press release.
Following several days of strong southwesterly winds, some swarms have also reached the Mediterranean coast either side of the border between Libya and Egypt, while others have reached Crete, Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel.
The country mostly affected by adverse growing conditions, including Desert Locusts, is Mauritania, where up to 50 percent of cereal production may be lost, FAO said. Mauritania has already faced several years of drought and poor harvests. The ability of the Mauritanians to cope with this situation has been exhausted. Households largely dependent on their own crop production and livestock herds for family food needs are especially at risk.
Food assistance and the delivery of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fodder, will be needed to improve the food security situation of affected communities and allow farmers to plant their fields and feed their animals.
FAO intends to call for donor emergency funds to support early agricultural rehabilitation for farmers severely affected.
FAO has so far received $52.4 million from donors and has added $6 million of its own funds for Desert Locust control operations. Around $15 million have been pledged but not yet received.
To date, FAO has ordered more than two million litres of pesticides at a total value of $14.7 million, and already delivered more than half the total. (menareport.com)