Biblical locust swarms are laying waste to southern Africa’s crops.
Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and most recently Angola have already been affected with hundreds of thousands hectares of crop and pasture decimated.
Effects in rural areas already substantial
In Zambia alone, locusts have already infested some 300,000 hectares (741,000 hectares).
In Zimbabwe, the harvests in May were bad. The country has been going through a two-year long drought, and the economy is on its knees. The Ministry of Agriculture does not have enough insecticides. The situation may spiral out-of-control.
In South Africa, officials warn about a brown locust outbreak invading the country through the Eastern Cape provincial department – which is also probably going to grow out of control also.
Two simultaneous but unrelated locust outbreaks
Africa is currently experiencing two biblical locust swarms both due to unusual climatic conditions.
The first outbreak, the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) outbreak, started in June 2019 and plagues North and East Africa. According to the latest updates, the epicenter is shifting to eastern Ethiopia and Somalia.
The second outbreak is raging in southern Africa and is due to the African migratory locust (Locusta migratoria migratorioides). It is accompanied by a red locust (Nomadacris septemfasciata) and the brown locust (Locustana pardalina) outbreak in the same region.
The two outbreaks are unrelated but both threaten the livelihoods of farmers and cattle herders, who are already dealing with food shortages caused by a crippling drought.
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reports 45 million people could be facing food shortages.