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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
Locust crisis 'could get worse'
A Mauritanian man looks at a swarm of locusts (Pic: FAO/ G. Diana)
A single locust can eat its own weight each day
United Nations officials are warning that Africa's locust crisis could be even worse next year, and are urging countries to be better prepared.

The insects have devastated crops across West Africa in recent months.

Experts of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), meeting in Senegal on Monday, said the insects were moving north to breed.

They predict that the swarms will expand next year in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, then move south.

The FAO representative in Senegal, Edouard Tapsoba, said the situation could last for a couple of years.

"We should not think we are at the end of the story," he said.

This year's locust plagues have been the worst in a decade.

Locusts remain in Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Mali, but the focus of prevention efforts in the coming months will be Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, officials said.

Said Ghaout, an FAO consultant who is the director the national locust control centre in Morocco, said a new generation of locusts was expected to breed in November in Mauritania and northern parts of Niger.

Those swarms will move in January to northern Africa, where they will breed in March or April then move south again in June, Mr Ghaout said.

EU representative Jos Van Aggelen told a news conference: "It's clear that this year we have not won this battle against the locusts."

"It's important that we're better prepared next year for this fight," he said.

The FAO has appealed for $100m to tackle the crisis but so far has received much less.

Taking arms against the swarms
07 Oct 04  |  Africa
Mauritania 'on brink of famine'
21 Sep 04  |  Africa
Africa declares 'war' on locusts
20 Oct 04  |  Africa
Locusts ravage northern Nigeria
19 Aug 04  |  Africa
Why locusts swarm
27 Mar 01  |  Sci/Tech


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