EghtesadOnline: As the desert locust invasion intensifies in southern Iran, Agriculture Minister Mohammad Khavazi was accompanied by experts and officials from the ministry last week to Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the worst hit province by the pest, to directly evaluate the situation and supervise measures taken by local officials.
“Up until now, we have battled the pest on over 244,144 hectares across seven southern provinces: Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Fars, Kerman, South Khorasan and Khuzestan, from the most to least infected,” Mohammad Reza Mir, spokesman of the Plant Protection Organization, was quoted as saying by ILNA on Friday.
As predicted, Khavazi said, new bands of the locust have entered the country over the past few days from the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, and this will intensify over the coming days.
The pernicious pest, the minister reassured, has been effectively fought in the infected regions and no damage has been inflicted on local farms and orchards.
“We have requested assistance from the military that has agreed to provide us with SUVs. Last year, too, the military provided us with equipment and personnel,” he said.
The Plant Protection Organization of Iran battled the pest across 750,000 hectares in the previous round of attack that cost the organization more than $2.74 million. The figure is expected to exceed 1 million hectares this year, hence the need for more budget.
Mir told Young Journalists Club that the government has so far allocated 650 billion rials ($3.7 million) to the battle against the desert locust.
FAO believes this round of desert locust outbreak to be the worst in 25 years across East Africa and Southwest Asia.
While governments keep expanding efforts to control the current upsurge with the Food and Agriculture Organization's support, conditions remain favorable for locust reproduction and will require sustained and geographically expanded efforts, FAO wrote on its website.
Since FAO launched its desert locust response in January, its appeal has funded $130 million to support 10 countries, namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Yemen. The revised version of the appeal to be launched in the coming weeks is expected to also seek resources for Iran and Pakistan, which are also dealing with locust infestations.
FAO’s latest desert locust situation update published on May 13 says the situation is threatening in Iran where hopper bands are maturing along the southwestern coastal plains, and another generation of breeding is underway in the southeast where hatching is taking place on the coast near Jask and in the interior of Sistan-Baluchistan.