US to Benefit from Massive Locust Swarm Invasion in Africa and the Middle East

What the massive locust swarm in Africa and the Middle East means to the US

Somalilandsun: New swarms of locusts are forming in the Horn of Africa, with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia specifically most at risk. Swarms are also forming in Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and India. The FAO has requested $138 million to help control the situation, to protect farmers’ livelihoods and to help those affected.

In this photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, young desert locusts that have not yet grown wings jump in the air as they are approached, as a visiting delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) observes them, in the desert near Garowe, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia. The desert locusts in this arid patch of northern Somalia look less ominous than the billion-member swarms infesting East Africa, but the hopping young locusts are the next wave in the outbreak that threatens more than 10 million people across the region with a severe hunger crisis. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The weather initiated the crisis. In 2018, cyclones from the Indian Ocean hit the Arabian Peninsula near the borders of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman and warm weather at the end of 2019, combined with unusually heavy rains, created the ideal conditions for the locusts.

“When you have rains associated with cyclones, they’re much stronger than normal,” Keith Cressman, the FAO’s senior locust-forecasting officer told New York Magazine. “When those rains fall in desert areas with sandy soil, that will flood the soil. Once those floods recede, the soil retains so much moisture that it allows desert locust females to lay their eggs probably for a period of around six months.”

The locusts spread rapidly and national emergencies have been declared in Pakistan, Jordan and Somalia. More than 140,000 acres of crops have been damaged in Pakistan alone since last April.

The United States cotton industry may benefit as a result of the tragedy because countries like Pakistan will need to rely on imports rather than their own production. The textile industry is Pakistan’s biggest employer and generates 60 percent of its exports. Because of the locusts, the country is expected to fall 25 to 30 percent short of its targeted production goal for cotton. Read more