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Locust plague to intensify famine in Yemen without government intervention

Yemen has once again been overtaken by a massive locust plague due to the lack of government oversight and the civil war raging inside of the country, reports Reuters.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) warned the local government that the locusts are expected to pose the greatest threat to agricultural production in Yemen and nearby countries over the next three months.

"Now that the locusts are in the last phase of their growing season. They will complete ecdysis and become adult locusts in two days. These adult locusts will massively gather together and migrate when they can fly," said Amin Zarqa, deputy director of the desert locust monitoring center in Yemen.

The Indian Ocean cyclone last year provided favorable meteorological conditions for the locusts to breed in western Oman, eastern Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the rainy season and high temperatures have also further boosted the hatching of the locusts.

The locust plague typically breaks out about every six years. Yemen suffered its last massive locust plagues in 2007 and 2013, but at that time, the local government took early and effective measures, under the help of the international community, in order to reduce the harm that they would cause. However, due to the lack of war and reduced governmental authority, the locust plague this year will undoubtedly become particularly severe.

READ: Yemen farmers need urgent support to ease hunger crisis

"Now the damage is severe. We want to get out of here and make a living somewhere else, but what can we do? Even the forage grass for the sheep has been eaten up and they have nothing to eat. This is the first time I've seen such a severe locust plague in my whole life," said a farmer.

According to the director of the desert locust monitoring center, Adel Ibrahim, without immediate action, the locust plague could affect major farming areas in western Yemen within a month and a half, reducing or even eliminating harvests and also impact the agricultural production in of next year, further exacerbating a nationwide famine.

"The locusts caused damage to almost all the crops, especially the grains, citrus and grape crops. We have found that 80 percent of grains, citrus and grape crops were all damaged in accordance to the field sampling survey," said Ibrahim.

Local experts have called on the local government to put aside political issues and join forces to solve the problem of the locust plague.

Yemeni children affected by the Saudi-coalition war - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Yemeni children affected by the Saudi-coalition war – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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