(ERGO) – Abdirahman Mohamed, a farmer in Dalyare in northern Somalia’s Sool region, watched helplessly as his four hectares of tomatoes, onions and peppers were all destroyed by invading locusts.
“I am devastated – all the crops I planted have been eaten up by the locusts,” he told Radio Ergo. “I’ve lost about $4,000 which I had borrowed.”
Abdirahman and other farmers in Dalyare say the locusts landed in mid-May and stayed in the area for 20 hours, devouring the crops, grass, and all other vegetation.
They tried everything they had heard might work, including lighting fires to smoke the insects out, honking horns and even firing guns. None of their efforts worked and they are now concerned about the larvae that were left behind that will hatch into new waves of locusts.
Abdinasir Mohamed Salad, who has six hectares of farmland in Dalyare, had borrowed $3,000 to plant for the season and he has been left with nothing to show for it.
“My worry now is how I’ll pay for my family’s expenses and the loan, which I was hoping to pay back from the profits I would be earning after selling the crops,” he told Radio Ergo.
He described the locust swarms as so dense that they blocked out the sunlight. He says he is quitting farming for the time being because he has lost hope.
“I’m leaving the farm because whatever I planted now would be eaten up by the larvae that the locusts have left behind,” he declared.
The head of Dalyare farmers’ association, Abdirizak Astur Warsame, told Radio Ergo that all 256 farms in the area were affected in one way or another. Some of the farmers have even moved away into the interior livestock herding areas, after losing out in farming.
“Around this time of the year there would normally be about three trucks loaded with farm produce heading out to Galkayo, Qardho, Garowe and Lasanod, but now we only have one delivery going to Lasanod,” Abdirizak said.
Whilst the farmers did all they could to fight off the locusts as they descended, some of their efforts turned sour. Several farms were burnt to the ground by the fires deliberately lit to ward off the locusts.
Dalyare in Lasanod district is known for its rich soil and access to water conducive to farming. Farmers have been growing a variety of produce here for the past 30 years. The area has been a settlement for more than a century.