Close up of a hand grasping a locust. “You cannot eradicate locusts, you can only try to manage them. They have become an epidemic, an invasion in Somalia.”
Illustrated portrait of Dr. Mohamud, quoted. “We try to find them before they are fully mature and can fly. If we locate them in residential areas while in early stage, we dig a big, deep hole and bury them.”
A vast Somalian plain under siege from a swarm of hungry locusts. “If we can’t, eggs of the same age hatch all at once and will destroy anything green that exists.”
The same Somalian plain after the destruction of the swarm: in the aftermath it is lifeless and desolate. “We manage them because they make people shed tears.”
Dr. Mohamud walks through a lush landscape with flying locusts. “When numbers become bigger, then we have to use bio-pesticides, which only kill locusts. I am motivated to do everything I can when I see a crisis unfolding.”
Quotes by Dr. Mohamed Hassan Mohamud, entomologist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Dr. Mohamed Hassan Mohamud
Dr. Mohamed Hassan Mohamud was born in Somalia. He completed his first degree studies there, and then earned Masters and PhD degrees in Entomology at Kenyatta University in Kenya. During his time at university he considered studying medicine, but turned his attention to agriculture instead.
Dr. Mohamud joined the research group ICIPE (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology) after working on an agriculture development project with the Ministry of Agriculture in Somalia, which was funded by USAID, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Somali Government. During Somalia’s civil war, he did his field studies in Kenya. He joined the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in April 2020 as a Desert Locust Specialist working on the locust response. As he says; “You cannot control locusts – you can only try to manage them.”
Now, the FAO Desert Locust Specialist considers the insects to be their own kind of epidemic, driving a chain reaction of suffering that begins with the farmer but soon spreads throughout the community and the country. “I am motivated to do everything I can when I see a crisis unfolding,” he says.
Dr. Mohamud’s story is by artist Tom Reilly.