- Mauritania is not completely free another locust infestation, as new desert locusts were detected in the country's northwest, prompting the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to warn national locust centres in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal and other risk areas to be on high alert against the threat of desert locust in West and North Africa.
According to FAO experts, the new infestations might have originated from "undetected breeding" during the past two months in Mauritania or north-western of Mali. The adult locusts, which were said to be present in green vegetation with high rainfall northeast of Nouakchott, are laying eggs that are expected to hatch in ten days time.
The FAO locust team is not only talking to national locust authorities, but it is also asking them to expedite steps to prevent an upsurge of locust invasion in their countries. Threatened by an eminent locust invasion, the Mauritanian government started an early survey of locust situation on 9 October.
In August 2004, locust invaded Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Morocco thus causing huge damages to crops, which resulted to food shortage.
FAO experts said the large presence of locust two years ago was caused by series of good rainfall in the Sahel during the summer of 2003 and then in north-western Africa during winter/spring, which created favourable ecological conditions for locust development in the region and allowed at least four generations of locusts to breed one after the other.
"The current situation is an opportunity to field test environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional pesticides," FAO assistant director-general of agriculture, Alexander Muller said, disclosing that FAO experts already were present in northwest Mauritania to organise field trials of an environmentally friendly bio-pesticide that could be a powerful weapon against Desert Locusts.
Thanks to the new control method that uses a natural fungus called Metarhizium anisopliae, infected locust hoppers to stop feeding and die soon.
FAO said it was confident that Mauritania would be equipped with resources to sufficiently tackle the current situation, and praised the swift reaction of the Nouakchott government. Mauritanian authorities were already "mobilising additional ground survey teams to the northwest to check all suspected areas."
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