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Somalia declared the worst desert locust invasion in a quarter-century a national emergency that’s posing a major threat to an already fragile food situation.

Swarms of the insects are breeding in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan and have also spread to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where they are devouring swaths of farming and pasture land. Somalia requires surveillance, data collection, reporting and control activities to help contain the pests before the so-called gu’ cropping season that begins in April, the agriculture ministry said in an emailed statement.

“If we don’t act now, we risk a severe food crisis that we cannot afford by any means,” according to the statement. “Funding is urgently needed to be able to advance these efforts in time.”

A typical desert locust swarm can contain as many as 150 million locusts per square kilometer. Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometers in a day, destroying the amount of crops in a day that would be sufficient to feed 2,500 people.

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