The battle against billions of locusts devastating crops in East Africa will continue through into April as the international community steps up efforts to control the pest.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation described the situation as ’alarming’ in a recent statement.
It said: “The situation remains extremely alarming in the Horn of Africa, especially Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, where widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season."
Warning of a significant threat to crops and calls to monitor and control pests have also been made in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan. Food supplies for up to 25 million people are under threat, with swarms of 200 billion locusts which can travel 100 miles a day reported.
The UN FAO has called for a fund of US$76 million to fight the threat, but less than half that amount has been raised.
The UK has committed £5m to the fund.
A computer system funded with UK aid money is being used to monitor swarms and identify the ideal time to spray pesticides. The key to control is to kill hatchlings before they go on to lay their own eggs.