The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned of locust invasion in West Africa from East Africa starting from June and Nigeria is preparing to deal with the challenge, according to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
“Surveillance and control teams will be mobiliised across the region with a focus on Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and extended to Senegal. Countries such as Cameroon, The Gambia and Nigeria are also on watch in the event that desert locust spreads to these highly acute food-insecure countries,” FAO posted on its website.
The organisation said countries of the sub-region most exposed to the threat – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal – were already facing the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which had presented significant further risks to food security.
It advised countries to make investments in preparedness and response measures to control the swarms and protect livelihoods, given the already high levels of acute food insecurity in the region.
“Applying lessons from the 2003–2005 desert locust upsurge in West Africa and from the implementation of resilience programmes in the region, including its Early Warning Early Action approach, FAO is focusing on anticipatory action to avert a full blown food crisis, mainly by scaling up support to governments to monitor and control the pest; and safeguarding livelihood interventions,” it said.
Mustapha, who Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, during the team’s media briefing on COVID-19 a week ago, said Nigeria was expecting an invasion of locusts in the northern part of the country and had taken measures to mitigate the impact on food security.
He said FAO in February called on the Federal Government to take proactive measures against the threat
According to him, the government is proactive on the matter as a memo presented by the Minister for Agriculture at the Federal Executive Council meeting, to that effect, has led to the award of a contract to nip such invasion in the bud.
“A total sum of N13.9 billion was awarded to deal with trans-boundary animals and pests and also rehabilitation of major abattoirs to provide for sanitation in those places.
“The memo was passed and I believe it’s at the point of execution now to take control of particularly locusts at this time of the year and cropping season,” Mustapha said.
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