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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Locusts wreck orchards in Somalia
Huge swarms of locusts have hit large areas of northern Somalia, devouring vegetation and adding to the country's problems of war and devastation.

The province of Puntland has been worst affected, with livelihoods ruined as the insects stripped bare mango, orange and pawpaw farms.

Markets have been affected with some prices doubling in the last few days.

Residents in the northern port of Bosasso said swarms were so dense they blotted out the light from the sun.

This is the latest blow to Somalia, which has suffered from internal conflict, and in the south of the country, drought and flooding.

The locusts have stripped hundreds of square kilometres of foliage in Puntland, the BBC's Adam Mynott says.

'No more fruit'

One witness reporting seeing thousands of branchless trees in Karin village.

"I have lost fruits worth $7,000," farmer Said Abdullahi, 58, told Reuters news agency.

We even tried to hit them with metallic plates in vain. They ate every green tree in sight
Amal Abdullahi, farmer

"I had just started harvesting when the locusts struck three days ago. I don't know what to do."

Puntland's minister of livestock and agriculture, Ali Jama Farah, said the authorities "have no capacity to stop them".

"We are still looking for a chemical that can kill the locusts," he said.

In Bosasso the effects are already being felt, with the prices of some fruit and vegetables more than doubling.

"We no longer receive fruits and spices from our suppliers," trader Sahra Abdi told the agency.

"A pawpaw is going at 26,000 Somali shillings ($1.50) from 12,000 three days ago. I think very soon Bosasso will have to do without fruit altogether."

Another farmer, Amal Abdullahi, explained how she tried to fight the pests.

"We even tried to hit them with metallic plates in vain. They ate every green tree in sight," she said.

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