Swarms of locusts destroying crops and feeding land across east Africa have arrived in South Sudan, already staggering from widespread starvation and years of civil war, the nation’s agriculture minister stated Tuesday.
The locusts arrived in southern Magwi county, on the border with Uganda, Minister Anyoti Adigo Nyikwach mentioned.
Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti are fighting the worst locust epidemic in many years, and swarms have also spread into Tanzania, Uganda, and now South Sudan.
Desert locusts can journey as much as 150 km (95 miles) in a day and eat their body weight in greenery, which means a swarm just one-kilometer square can eat as much food as 35,000 individuals in a day, the UN says.
The invasion is worsening food shortages in a region where as much as 25 million individuals are suffering from three years of droughts and floods.
Meshack Malo, South Sudan’s consultant for the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, stated the locusts have been mature and looking for breeding grounds that may form the basis of the following major infestation.
Groups planned to mark the place where they lay eggs after which come back to kill the young bugs in 14 days, he stated, since poisoning the eggs in the ground may harm the soil.
At least 2,000 locusts had crossed the border, he stated. During each three-month breeding cycle, a single locust can produce 20 more, giving rise to the massive swarms that are endangering crops on either facet of the Red Sea.