Locust invasion threatens Somali farmers with starvation

DHUSAMAREB, Somalia (Reuters) - Somali farmers on Saturday urged their government and the international community to help protect their crops from an invasion of locusts that is leaving many unable to feed their families.

“Locusts already ate our grazing area so we are now fighting to save at least our farm, where we planted watermelon and beans. We aren’t able to protect them and we call on the Somali government and international community to help us,” said Jamad Mohamed, a farmer in Dhusamareb, the provincial capital of Galgadud, a semi-autonomous region.

The insects have already destroyed 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland in Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in both countries in the worst locust invasion in 70 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.

For Jirow Qorhere, another Somali farmer in the region, it is too late. He has lost all his crops to the insects.

“Locusts devoured the whole area and have now reached our farm to eat our plants, as you can see,” Qorhere said. “This is the end, we have nothing left to feed our children and we aren’t even able to buy from the market.”

Reporting by Abdirahman Hussein; Writing by Giulia Paravicini; editing by James Drummond