Local media reports have shown residents in central Somalia frying locusts and serving them with rice, with one man saying the desert insects are tastier than fish.

Another man told Universal Somali TV he believes eating the insects could help reduce his back pain and blood pressure, while some residents have apparently urged local restaurants to introduce locust dishes.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said earlier this week that Somalia and Ethiopia were facing a locust infestation that is destroying crops and threatening food security in the region.

On Saturday, Somali farmers urged their government and the international community to help protect crops from the invasion.

The FAO has reported farmers are facing a “devastating threat” to their crops and warned that the environmental damage of the infestation could endanger crop production beyond Somalia if it goes unchecked.

“A single locust plague can lead to a loss of 170,000 tonnes of grain, enough to feed one million people for a year,” the organisation said.

David Phiri, a FAO regional coordinator, told Voice of America news company on Wednesday that favourable weather conditions for locust breeding means there is a high probability of the insects continuing to spawn rapidly until April 2020.

The insects have already destroyed at least 175,000 acres of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia, according to the FAO.

Jirow Qorhere, a farmer in central Somalia, said earlier this week that he had lost all his crops from the infestation.

“Locusts devoured the whole area and have now reached our farm to eat our plants,” he said.

“This is the end, we have nothing left to feed our children and we aren’t even able to buy from the market.”

Additional reporting by Reuters