An invasion of crop pests in southern Somalia’s Bardhere district is threatening to wipe out farmers’ yields at a time of fragile food security in many parts of the country.

Farmers and local authorities say over 1,200 farms in Bardhere town and 53 nearby villages in Gedo region have been affected.

The pests include Fall Armyworm, locusts, greenfly and maggots, according to farmers. At risk are the farms of maize, beans, millet, tomatoes, onions, greens, and several other crops planted between August and September.

The acting district commissioner of Bardhere, Hussein Abdullahi Halane, told Radio Ergo the administration had been informed about the problem but had no capacity to help.

Mohamed Abdirahman Matow, the deputy chairperson of Bardhere Farmers’ Association, said the pests in some parts the district threatened to destroy the entire harvest this season.

“Over 10,000 hectares of farmland have been affected by the pests. The farmers invested a total of 86,000 dollars in their farms hoping for a good harvest, but the local production will severely reduce due to stem pests infesting their crops,” Mohamed said.

According to Abdirahman, they had not succeeded in using either chemical or biological pesticides to control the infestations.

With the help of a loan, Mohamed Abdirahman Mayow, invested almost 1,000 dollars in his farm in Hurena village six km north of Bardere.

He planted a variety of crops in August. Mayow said he expected to earn more than what he invested in his farm.

“I invested 975 dollars which was a loan from traders in the town. I planted maize, onion, beans, sesame, oranges, and other vegetables,” he said.

Now, close to four months after planting most of his crops have been destroyed.

“I have no hope now.  After all my effort and expenses, almost all the crops have been damaged. The harvest from my farm will not be able to offset the loan let alone give me any profit,” he said.

Nadifo Abdi, who delivers her products to Bardhere market, said efforts to stop the pests have been in vain.

“I tried to spray the farm with pesticide, but nothing changed. The entire crop in the farm has dried. We have never witnessed such big losses,” said the mother of 13. The family invested 1,450 dollars in the farm.

Ali Mohamud Ali, an expert who has been involved in farming for 45 years, said the preventive measures should have been taken before planting.

“The farmers need to be trained on best farming practices. To prevent such quick spreading pests or disease, the farmers should be aware of the need to have intervals between crops and about the right pesticides to use,” he advised.