Iran well rid of 153 swarms of desert locusts

Tehran Times – Some 153 swarms of desert locusts from Saudi Arabia which penetrated into the southeastern provinces have been controlled, Esmaeil Najjar, head of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization has said.

Since the [Iranian calendar] month of Bahman (starting on January 21) we fought swarms of desert locust in approximately 532,000 hectares of farming lands, IRNA news agency quoted Najjar as saying on Saturday.

Provinces of Bushehr, Fars, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, Hormozgan, Kerman, Khuzestan, and Sistan–Baluchestan have been affected by the locusts which incurred major losses on farming lands and gardens.

Farm lands in the aforementioned provinces have undergone aerial spraying of chemical insecticides and ground pest control operations, he stated.

He went on to say that a budget of 300 billion rials (around $7 million) is required to completely eradicate the outbreak, while some 100 billion rials (nearly $2.3 million) have so far been allocated, and another budget of 200 billion rials (nearly $4.6 million) is planned to be allotted in this regard.

Desert locusts are usually restricted to the semi-arid and arid deserts, and it is anticipated that another swarms formed from spring breeding in Saudi Arabia might attack the country once again, he lamented, adding, we will steadily fight the pests.

Desert locusts are short-horned grasshoppers that can form large swarms and pose a major threat to agricultural production, livelihoods, food security, and the environment and economic development.

FAO explains that adult locust swarms can fly up to 150 km a day with the wind. Female locusts can lay 300 eggs within their lifetime while an adult insect can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day – about two grams every day. A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people and the devastating impact locusts can have on crops poses a major threat to food security, especially in already vulnerable areas.

During quiet periods (known as recessions) desert locusts are usually form groups in deserts of Africa, the Near East and South-West Asia that receive less than 200 mm of rain annually. This is an area of about 16 million square kilometers, consisting of about 30 countries.