Massive swarms of crop-destroying locusts have invaded some 40 villages in eastern Guinea-Bissau and are heading north towards neighbouring Senegal, a local government official told AFP on Monday.
"Heavy rains over the past days have not discouraged them, they are continuing to move towards the province of Farim, further north towards the Senegalese border," said Queba Balde, the deputy government representative for the region.
He said 43 villages had already been affected.
"We counted between 125 and 150 locusts per square meter," said an official from the plant protection service in Bafata, the main city in the affected region which is 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of the capital Bissau.
"They are very voracious insects attacking the rice paddies and other crops. We tried with our limited means to defeat them, but without success," added the officer, on condition of anonymity.
The agricultural ministry has also sent a team of experts to Contuboel, an area near the Senegalese border to the north, to assess the situation, department spokesman Juvenal Cabral told AFP.
"Our teams are on the ground to investigate the situation before providing the appropriate response."
Locust invasions are a common occurrence across west Africa, devastating crops as harvest season begins.
In 2004, a massive locust plague caused havoc in Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, and in October 2009 millions of locusts infested about 40,000 hectares in Mauritania.