Prime News Ghana

Agric Ministry warns of new crop pest invasion, the Dessert Locust 

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
Dessert Locust
Dessert Locust
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The Food and Agriculture Ministry has warned of an invasion of a new crop pest, the Dessert Locust which could cause huge negative impact on the country’s food security.

According to the ministry, the pest is more destructive than the Fall Armyworm pests which caused huge devastation a few years ago.

A very small swam of this pest eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people, JoyNews’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo reported.

According to Joy FM's report,  a letter to Agricultural Directors across the country from the Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division, Dr. Felicia Ansah Amprofi said the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has warned the pests are moving from East Africa towards West Africa.

READ ALSO : CSIR warns of major resurgence of FallArmyworm pests

The Directors are being tasked to strengthen surveillance in the areas of jurisdiction to prevent the Dessert Locust from destroying farms across the country.

Dessert Locust

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is considered the most dangerous of all migratory pest species in the world. It threatens people’s livelihoods, food security, the environment and economic development.

It can easily affect more than 65 of the world’s poorest countries. It can reproduce rapidly, migrate long distances and devastate crops and pasture. The Desert Locust has the ability to change its behaviour and appearance, under particular environmental conditions (unusually heavy rains), and transform itself from a harmless individual to part of a collective mass of insects that form a swarm, which can cross continents and seas, and quickly destroy a farmer’s field and his entire livelihood in a single morning.

A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day that is about two grams every day. A 1 km² size swarm contains about 40 million locusts, which eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people, 20 camels or 6 elephants.

During quiet periods (known as recessions), solitarious locusts are found in low numbers scattered throughout the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. This arid area is some 16 million km² in size, and includes about 30 countries. It is called the recession area. During a plague, swarms can also invade other countries and a greater amount of land equivalent to about 20% of Earth’s land can be affected (invasion area).