While the world fights to slow the spread of COVID-19, the worst pandemic experienced in a century, countries in South and Southwest Asia are simultaneously responding to plagues of pests which threaten to worsen hunger and the livelihoods of millions of people, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today.
Swarms of Desert Locust, over the last couple of months, have moved swiftly into west Asia attacking vegetation in parts of Iran and Pakistan, and are now threatening crops in India. These swarms are the worst experienced in more than a generation. FAO experts estimate the number of locusts could grow twenty-fold in the upcoming rainy season in South Asia unless extra measures to counter the swarms are put in place. FAO is tracking the movements across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Fall armyworm, a maize-destroying pest that migrated to Asia from Africa in 2018, has also spread across the continent and has arrived in Australia.
“We cannot and must not under-estimate the damage to lives and livelihoods that the convergence of these crises will have on food security and hunger in this part of the world, already home to most of its undernourished people,” said Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Deputy Regional Representative and Head of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. He further emphasized, “FAO continues to support our member countries in response to these and other threats in these very challenging times.”