EghtesadOnline: Amid the looming return of desert locusts, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri has called on Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and the head of Plan and Budget Organization, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, to provide the required funding to fight the pest.
According to Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati, it is estimated that 900,000 hectares in Iran will be affected by desert locusts this year.
Mohammad Reza Dargahi, the head of Plant Protection Organization affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry, says between 400,000 and 500,000 rials (around $3.4 to $4.4) are required to fight locusts on every hectare.
Therefore, a total of 360-450 billion rials ($3.2 million to $3.9 million) are needed for the elimination of the pest, according to Financial Tribune.
Dargahi noted that in the previous locust attack, PPO battled the pest across 750,000 hectares.
Iran’s southern provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Bushehr, Fars, Kerman, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad, South Khorasan and Ilam were swarmed by desert locusts in April.
The pest was first spotted in Hormozgan Province’s Bandar Lengeh on Jan. 4.
FAO had alerted Iran of probable locust attacks on Jan. 21.
Hojjati said at the time that locust attack can undermine Iran’s food security, if prompt measures are not taken.
According to the minister, about $80 billion worth of agricultural products are produced in Iran annually, $75 billion of which are consumed domestically.
“Iran currently meets 85% of its agricultural needs domestically and the rest is procured through imports,” he said.
The desert locust is among the most dangerous pests that can destroy all vegetation and food resources, including grains, fodder, vegetables and trees on their path.
The pest has attacked Iran’s farms in the fiscal 1963-64 and 1993-94. The former caused heavy damage to the country’s farms and agricultural production.
The pest is indigenous to Saudi Arabia, Morocco and African countries, and enters Iran by crossing from across the Persian Gulf.