EghtesadOnline: Desert locust, which invaded the southern provinces of Iran since Feb. 19, have been fought over 378,494 hectares so far, the spokesman of the Plant Protection Organization affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry said.
“Khorasan Razavi has recently joined the provinces invaded by the pest, so the battle is currently taking place in eight Iranian provinces now. Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Kerman, South Khorasan and Khuzestan have already been infected,” Mohammad Reza Mir was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Out of the aforementioned provinces, said Mir, Sistan-Baluchestan is the worst-hit province where the pest has been confronted on more than 170,640 hectares.
The official added that no damage has been caused to orchards and farms in the infested provinces so far.
“The migratory pest has found its way to Iran from the littoral states of the Persian Gulf where due to barren lands and the fact that very little or no agricultural activity takes place, no serious battle against it has taken place. Yet, due to Iran’s effective measures against the spread of the locust, fewer swarms have invaded India, Pakistan and Iraq,” he was quoted as saying by Young Journalists Club.
Plans are underway, he said, to use drones to battle the voracious pest in mountainous and inaccessible areas such as swamps. Yet, the most effective and environment-friendly method is to use vehicle-mounted and handheld sprayers.
Mir noted that locust invasions will become more intense in late July, adding that this year chemical pesticides will be used on nearly 1 million hectares.
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.
This year, PPO has requested a total of 850 billion rials (around $4.8 million) for a thorough, effective battle.
Worst Outbreak in 25 Years
FAO believes this round of desert locust outbreak will be the worst in 25 years across East Africa and Southwest Asia and the worst for Iran over the last five decades.
The desert locusts are considered among the most devastating migratory pests that posed serious threat to food security in several parts of the globe, including Africa.
While governments keep expanding their efforts to control the current upsurge with the support of Food and Agriculture Organization, conditions remain very favorable for locust reproduction and will require sustained and geographically expanded effort, FAO wrote on its website.
Since FAO launched its desert locust response in January, its appeal has funded $130 million for supporting 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 update published on May 13 says the situation is threatening 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.
The Food and Agriculture Organization recently delivered the first batch of its technical assistance to PPO to help the country battle the locust invasion, FAO’s Iran Office has announced in a press release.
The batch includes 25 Ultra Low Volume sprayers worth around $125,000, Mehr News Agency reported.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations signed a $500,000 Emergency Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) project with PPO on March 19 to enhance the country’s technical capacity for early warning, monitoring and management of the desert locust.
Funded by FAO, the project will contribute to the efforts of Iranian national and local managers and experts in the southern provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr, Fars, Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan by providing know-how, expertise and equipment to detect, track and rapidly respond to desert locust infestation.
India to Supply 25 Tons of Pesticides
India's state-owned HIL Ltd will supply 25 tons of pesticides to Iran to control desert locust, the Indian government said recently.
"HIL is now in the process of production and supply of 25 tons Malathion Technical for supply to Iran’s locust control program under government-to-government arrangement," an official statement said.
India's External Affairs Ministry has approached HIL for the manufacture and supply of this commodity to Iran.
India has proposed to Iran as well as Pakistan for a coordinated approach in dealing with the alarming threat of fast-increasing desert locusts.
The institutionalized mechanism of locust warning organization could be energized for such cooperation, Press Trust of India quoted official sources as saying recently.
They said India has offered to supply pesticide to Iran to contain the spread of desert locusts in Sistan-Baluchestan and South Khorasan provinces.