The desert locust is a species of locust. Plagues of desert locusts have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this voracious insect.
The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. It has two to five generations per year. The last major desert locust upsurge in 2004–05 caused significantcrop losses in West Africa and had a negative impact on food security in the region. While the desert locust alone is not responsible for famines, it can be an important contributing factor.
The federal government of Nigeria has alerted farmers of locusts and quelea birds coming into the country from Niger Republic, calling for vigilance and urgent action.
Ogbeh expressed fear that the current hunger in the country would further be exacerbated if the alert from Niger was not taken seriously.
He said Nigeria was already facing food crisis, and the entry of the pests could worsen the situation.
“We have called you here for two major reasons. There is a warning we received that locusts and quelea birds are messing up in Niger Republic, from where they normally attack us in Nigeria,” Ogbeh said.
“We know how dangerous quelea birds and locusts can be. If they arrive within hours or days, they will have wiped out everything the farmers would have put in the field.
“We already have maize crisis, and we may have food problems if we are attacked. This country would be in turmoil. We can’t allow that.
“Prices of food today are high and Nigerians are troubled. People are angry and they want this high cost of food items to be resolved in no time.
“I believe that with the effort you are making, we are approaching the promise land. We are recording high yield in some states now.”
The minister added that a disease known as army worm had been attacking maize in the country.
He called for an emergency team to address the problem, which he explained was responsible for a severe shortage of maize, making the staple to sell for as high as N15,000 per bag.
”We must have an emergency team put in place between you and us at the federal ministry, so that we can tackle these issues very swiftly,” Ogbeh said.
“Now that we know they will come, we have to design a strategy where chemicals are available in all the states and contingency steps can be taken quickly.”