Intensified environmental observations are being carried out along Egypt's borders to prevent swarms of crop-eating desert locusts, which have spread in some African regions recently, from getting closer to the country's agricultural land.
Causing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods, massive desert locust swarms have already penetrated a number of countries in eastern Africa, southwest Asia and the area around the Red Sea due to climate conditions that attract these pests and double their potential to proliferate.
Egypt has taken precautionary measures to deal with the desert locusts, which spread at the beginning of the year owing to the rainy season and the increase in the green areas, agriculture ministry spokesman Mohamed El-Qarsh told Ahram Online.
The fast-growing insects, which feed on substantial quantities of agricultural crops, are not prevalent in Egypt like they are in other regions due to a ministerial plan to keep them away from the country's borders, the spokesman added.
“The ministry's plan is centralised at Egypt's frontiers where there are 55 observatory points to observe any potential incoming swarms," El-Qarsh explained.
Small groups of locusts have been spotted and exterminated, he stressed, noting that the ministry is also monitoring all meteorological reports and is ready to take any necessary procedures.
The Egyptian Red Sea governorate announced that it managed to eliminate a bevy of desert locust that had been sighted earlier, stressing that "the situation is currently under control."
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said the situation is particularly worrisome in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, where the most dangerous migratory pests are damaging food crops and forage.
Large swarms pose a major threat to food security and rural livelihoods, as just a single square kilometre-wide swarm can contain up to 80 million adult locusts with the capacity to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
The ravenous eaters, which have the ability to travel 150 km, could spill over into more countries as a result of the forecast rainy conditions that are favourable to breeding, the FAO said.