Locust Swarms Threaten Afghan Agriculture, Amplifying Food Insecurity Woes

Web DeskJune 16, 20235055 min

Northern Afghanistan is currently witnessing a dire situation as hundreds of thousands of locusts descend upon crops, exacerbating the already precarious food shortage faced by farmers and their families. This onslaught of voracious pests poses a grave threat to the agricultural sector in a nation where food affordability remains a pressing concern. Despite desperate attempts by farmers to combat the locusts, their numbers continue to multiply, leaving devastating consequences for an already vulnerable population.

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In the breadbasket province of Balkh, specifically in the village of Kandali, a formidable swarm of grey locusts has amassed, ravaging a wheat field. These insects, identified as Moroccan locusts, consume everything green in their path, including wheat, peas, and sesame crops. With hunger gnawing at their stomachs, farmers and villagers are left with no choice but to confront the locusts head-on to safeguard their agricultural livelihoods.

The locust infestation poses not only an immediate threat but also perpetuates a cycle of destruction. After devouring the harvest, the locusts lay eggs, which will hatch in the following spring, perpetuating the plague. This alarming trend is particularly worrisome in a country where the United Nations reports that nine out of ten families already struggle to afford food. The consequences of this relentless cycle of locust damage are dire for an already food-insecure population.

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Farmers in affected areas resort to using nets to sweep up the swarms of locusts, attempting to mitigate the damage. However, despite their desperate efforts, the locust population continues to multiply, overwhelming the farmers’ resources and resilience. These farmers, burdened by the weight of existing challenges, such as ongoing drought, have been devoid of rain since March, a crucial factor that could have washed away the insects and provided relief to the agricultural sector.

The magnitude of the locust invasion’s impact on Afghanistan’s agriculture is alarming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, this year’s outbreak could potentially result in the destruction of 1.2 million tonnes of wheat, representing a quarter of the annual harvest. Such losses would amount to an estimated financial setback of up to $480 million, further exacerbating the economic strain on the country.

Afghanistan, grappling with its third consecutive year of drought, finds itself battling not only the effects of water scarcity but also the relentless onslaught of locusts. As farmers in regions like Kandali walk with empty stomachs, engaging in a desperate struggle against these pests, the immediate and long-term consequences for the nation’s agriculture and food security are dire. Urgent intervention and support are crucial to help alleviate the suffering of vulnerable farmers and mitigate the ongoing agricultural crisis in Afghanistan.

 

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