FAO Boosts Iran Fund to Battle Desert Locust
EghtesadOnline: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has increased its Emergency Technical Cooperation project (TCP) to help battle swarms of the desert locust by an additional $200,000.
FAO will grant Iran with a total of $500,000 under a scheme dubbed “urgent action for capacity building to control desert locust infestation in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
According to Financial Tribune, it signed an emergency TCP project with PPO affiliated with Agriculture Ministry on March 19 to enhance the country’s technical capacity for early warning, monitoring and management of desert locusts.
“In view of the alarming situation of desert locust in the region and the possible huge damages this pest can cause in agricultural production and rural livelihoods, FAO is determined to further extend its technical assistance to Iran, and accordingly allocated additional funds to this project,” said FAO’s representative to Iran, Gerold Bodeker.
Expressing hope for containing desert locusts effectively across the country, Bodeker said, “The project mainly focuses on providing around 320 Iranian experts with the requisite technical knowledge and skills to detect, track, report on and rapidly respond to desert locust infestations,” he was quoted as saying by FAO’s website.
He added that as part of the agreement, FAO will also assist the country in procuring vital equipment needed to equip two desert locust control centers that will allow a quicker and more effective response.
According to Keith Cressman, the executive secretary of FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in Southwest Asia (SWAC), widespread rains over the last couple of months in East Africa and Southwest Asia, including southern Iran, provided a conducive environment for the desert locusts to breed.
In East Africa, this represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods since it coincides with the beginning of the planting season.
Cressman who is also FAO’s Senior Locust Forecasting Officer, went on to say that it is crucial to join hands and share knowledge and skills to manage this dangerous migratory pest and prevent the further deterioration of the situation.
“FAO has implemented similar projects in Pakistan, Yemen and East African nations, all aimed to support its member states in managing the threat posed by the desert locust,” he said.
Being the lead UN agency for increasing food and agricultural development, FAO monitors the global locust situation to provide early warning and forecasts. The organization works closely with its member countries to strengthen their national capacities for better management of locust, including timely control and preventive interventions.
Serious, Worrisome Situation
FAO’s latest report concerning the desert locust released on April 14 reveals that widespread rains that fell in late March are expected to cause a dramatic increase in locust numbers in East Africa, eastern Yemen and southern Iran in the coming months.
Spring breeding is underway and the situation in Iran continues to be serious and worrisome, the report reads.
An increasing number of hopper bands continue to form along the southern coast with a few swarms forming near Jask County in Hormozgan Province.
Mohammad Reza Dargahi, the head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry, said on Saturday that the fight against the desert locust in the country has increased to cover a total of 101,173 hectares across six southern Iranian provinces.
“The pest has been confronted chemically using different methods from land and air. The provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Fars, Khuzestan and southern Kerman have been so far infected,” Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.
Swarms of the voracious pest were first spotted in Iran’s southern provinces on Feb. 19.
The official told Fars News Agency earlier this month that some 200 billion rials ($1.22 million) have been spent to battle the pest, adding that PPO has requested an additional 650 billion rials ($3.96 million) from the Plan and Budget Organization.
This amount, he added, will be enough to continue the fight until August.
“Some 200 billion rials ($1.22 million) have been spent to battle the pest up until now. We have requested an additional 650 billion rials ($3.96 million) from the Plan and Budget Organization. This amount will be enough to continue the fight until August,” Dargahi was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
The official added that this year round, the battle is three times as intense as last year.
The first generation of desert locusts attacked Iran about a year ago. FAO alerted Iran of probable locust attacks on Jan. 21, IRNA reported.
The Plant Protection Organization of Iran battled the pest across 750,000 hectares in the previous round of attack that cost PPO more than $2.74 million. The figure is expected to exceed 1 million hectares this year, hence, the need for more budget.