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Desert Locusts and Disasters

Preventing plaques through early warning systems is something the UN is focused on. A second wave of desert locusts is threatening east Africa with estimates that it will be 20 times worse then the plague that descended a few months ago.

According to the UN, desert locusts present an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods. A swarm of just more than a third of a square mile can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.With their seemingly bottomless appetites, locusts can cause devastating agricultural losses.

An adult desert locust can munch through its own bodyweight, about 0.07 ounces, of vegetation every day. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to blanket New York City more than once—and can destroy 300 million pounds of crops in a single day. Even a more modest gathering of 40 million desert locusts can eat as much in a day as 35,000 people.

In this episode we speak with Keith Cressman, who is a Senior Locust Forecasting Officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He is also responsible for operating FAO's global Desert Locust early warning system to provide the global community with early warning to prevent plagues in Africa and Asia.

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