Ethiopia: Ministry Faces Critical Shortage of Aircraft Sprayers to Control Fast Spreading Locust

Kipsing, near Oldonyiro, Isiolo county, Kenya - Desert locusts feed on local vegetation.

Addis Ababa — Ministry of Agriculture said that it needs more additional aircraft sprayers in the face of the fast spreading desert locust and severe shortage of aircraft.

Agriculture State Minister, Mandefro Negusse revealed that the country is now left with only one aircraft sprayer whereas it requires at least 10 to control the locust invasion.

Briefing journalists today, he stated that locusts have invaded parts of Somali, Oromia, Amhara, and Afar regional states as well as Dire Dawa City Administration.

"The locusts are currently entering Ethiopia from Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen. But the invasion will be even more challenging as the swarms will continue to enter the country until the end of December," the state minister added.

According to him, the worst affected areas at present are the spread of the locusts in 28 Woredas of Afar and 4 zones of Amhara regional states.

A swarm of locusts can fly 50 to 100kms per day, and the only way to control them is by using aircraft sprayers, Mandefro stated, adding that the topography of some of the invaded areas is not however suitable to conduct aerial and ground spraying.

"One aircraft recently collided with a mountain in North Gondar, another aircraft became dysfunctional, and the other two are under maintenance in Nairobi and South Africa. We literally have only one airplane sprayer in Kombolcha spraying at the moment," the state minister pointed out.

According to him, the country needs at least 10 planes and 150 vehicles to control the locusts, on top of community mobilization. "We have 112 vehicles now," he said.

He said the ministry is trying to get 2 aircraft from Sudan and is processing to contract additional 2 from the Food and Agriculture Organization.

However, the process to acquire the required aircraft takes time; but the locust invasion doesn't give time.

Mandefro disclosed that the Desert Locust Control Organization for East Africa is no more supporting the ministry.

Ethiopia has navigated over 1.1 million hectares of land and found locusts. Of this, it has managed to carry out control work on half a million hectares.

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