THE UK has announced £18 million funding to control millions of locusts attacking crops across east Africa, Yemen and south-west Asia.

Minister for International development  Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced the aid on Thursday (23) during a visit to British company Micron Group which supplies pesticide sprayers to locust-affected countries.

The new funding follows £8 million provided by the UK earlier this year to the FAO appeal, supporting Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania and Pakistan. The UK aid also funded a supercomputer to help countries in east Africa to track the insects’ movements around the continent.

“Vulnerable communities are on the brink of starvation because of the biggest locust outbreak in decades, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. British expertise is playing an important role in equipping companies with the right tools to combat the swarms and track where they will go next,” said Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

“But unless other countries also step up and act now, this crisis will spread and cause even more devastation.”

The impact of the upsurge of insects, which grew 20 times since March 2020, made worse by coronavirus, with vulnerable communities facing dwindling food supplies alongside the pandemic.

Since January this year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) has successfully controlled over 600,000 hectares of land, saved 1.2 million tons crops with a value of $372 million and eradicated over 400 billion locusts in 10 countries in east Africa.

Anthony Outlaw, Micron Group operations manager, said: “Micron are proud to support the world on the fight against locusts through supplying cutting-edge equipment for the FAO. We have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to meet this demand.”

Of the new funding, £17 million will go to the FAO’s emergency appeal to help to control the increase of locusts. The UK will also provide up to £1million to improve early warning and forecasting systems for desert locusts, so that countries can prepare for their arrival.

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