ADDIS ABBA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s wheat and corn production are expected to soar, according to an April 1 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wheat production is projected to come in at a record high of five million tonnes in the 2020-21 marketing year. Increased planting, favorable rainfall and government initiatives buoy the forecast, the USDA said.

The country is seeing a spike in domestic wheat demand as rapid urbanization, high population and shifting food habits develop. Ethiopia’s wheat consumption is expected to reach 6.7 million tonnes in marketing year 2020-21.

The USDA said enhanced seeds, increased feed demand and improved rainfall boosted Ethiopia’s corn production. The country’s marketing year 2020-21 is forecast to reach 8.6 million tonnes, a one million tonne increase compared to the previous year.

Despite the anticipated jump in wheat and corn production, the country remains cautious as the desert locust invasion remains as a potential future challenge.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Feb. 21 described an infestation of Desert Locusts that is plaguing East Africa as “extremely alarming” particularly in the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

A recent FAO report said, “It is the worst outbreak of Desert Locusts seen in the region for decades. Tens of thousands of hectares of croplands and pasture have been damaged in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia with potentially severe consequences in a region where 11.9 million people are already food insecure. The potential for destruction is enormous. A locust swarm of one square kilometer can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.”