Monitoring and Management of Desert Locusts in Africa

An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)
An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has this month warned that Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) swarms are invading cropping areas of northern Sudan. The swarms originated from winter breeding areas on the Red Sea coastal plains and subcoastal areas in northeast Sudan and southeast Egypt. The situation requires close monitoring as more swarms are expected to form in the coming weeks that could move into parts of  Sudan and southern Egypt. If no further rains fall and the vegetation dries out, some of these swarms could move into the interior of both countries and also cross the Red Sea to the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Locusts belong to the Acrididae family (in the order Orthoptera which includes grasshoppers and crickets) and when triggered by certain cues such as increased crowding with other locusts have the ability to change their morphology, behaviour and physiology over several generations. This phase change occurs from a solitary to a gregarious phase, eventually causing the locusts to form dense hopper bands and swarms. One of the most serious locust pests is the Desert Locust.

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Boosting Yields with Banana Compost

Banana plants are grown on over 52,000 acres of Egypt. Flickr/Scot Nelson

In Egypt a new ‘banana compost’ has been trialled with positive results. The compost increases crop yields whilst reducing water and fertiliser use. This new cultural method of crop management could soon be commercially produced to help Egyptian farmers

Banana plants only fruit once in their lifetime and are normally burned by farmers afterwards to make space for new banana plants. This is done on a large scale with over 52,000 acres of Egypt used to farm banana plants.

Recently scientists from Egypt’s National Research Centre have, instead of burning the banana plants, mixed them with manure and microorganisms such as yeast. This residue, called banana compost, was then applied to banana plants over 4 successive growing seasons.

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