Around 21 small farms in a village in Luq district in southern Somalia’s Gedo region burnt down, as farmers attempted to battle swarms of locusts that had descended on their land.
Mohamed Qasim Tabid, head of the local farmers’ cooperative, told Radio Ergo that farmers in Doryanley, five km from Luq town, tried to smoke out the locusts but the fires they had lit spread out of control.
“The farmers were burning debris on the sides to smoke out the locusts, but the winds spread the fires over their entire farms and destroyed all their crops,” he stated.
The locusts arrived in the area on 25 December, flying in from the south, and began destroying crops in 13 farming villages.
The farmers in Doryanley told Radio Ergo that smoking them out was the only means they had to combat the menace, so they lit the fires on 27 December.
Abbas Hussein Ibrahim, a 46-year-old father of nine, had invested $3,200 in planting his six hectares.
“I recently planted beans, maize and grass for the animals. When the locusts set on us, we burnt the boundary areas but the winds quickly spread the fire to the entire bush fence and soon burnt down most of the 30 lime trees we had there,” he told Radio Ergo.
Residents from nearby Luq town came to help put out the fires, but there was no solace for Abbas and the other farmers.
“The locusts have eaten up the lime trees that survived the fires, the trees are now just barren poles, without any cover from top to bottom. They ate up everything, the maize, beans, tomatoes and all the vegetables,” Abbas said.
His family depends on income from the farm. He normally sells his produce at the market in Luq town but now he has nothing left to plant again.
Locust swarms have also been sighted in Hanoy, Ara’ase and Maganey in Luq, where an estimated 178 farms are affected.
Dahir Osman Abdullahi, 52, who owns one of the 36 farms in Ara’ase village, seven km from Luq, said the locusts invaded on 27 December. He lost the $3,000 he had invested in maize, beans, limes and a variety of vegetables.
“We didn’t even bother to protect the lime trees, we focused on protecting the maize and the sorghum. We managed to salvage some of the sorghum, but not the maize. In a neighbouring farm, the locusts destroyed all the beans, capsicums and pumpkins; they just devoured it all up,” Dahir said.
Despite the loss, Dahir is one of a handful farmers who have already begun to prepare for replanting their farms. He told Radio Ergo that he sold two of his goats to raise money to buy seeds and would soon start planting.
The locust swarms menacing farmlands in Luq are said to have come from the south, where large swathes of land in Bakol region in South West State have been devastated.