EghtesadOnline: In the current fiscal year (started March 21), the desert locust was first spotted in the south of the country on March 24 and the pest has so far been battled over an area of 6,000 hectares.
“Locusts have been battled on 3,500 hectares in Khuzestan Province, 1,600 hectares in Bushehr Province and 400 hectares in the western province of Ilam,” Masoud Latifian, an official with Plant Protection Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official noted that PPO’s experts in 10 southern provinces are on the lookout for the pest.
“We expect a new swarm to enter the country in late April. Since there is not enough greenery in the plains and meadows in those provinces, the alarming expectation is that the pest could attack farms and orchards.”
The PPO has estimated that this time round, the pest needs to be battled on around 600,000 hectares.
“Last year [March 2020-21], locusts that entered the country grazed in the meadows and pastures since greenery and foliage were abundant due to the good level of precipitation. But this year, we experienced drought in the southern fields, and therefore, farms and orchards are at risk. Farmers and orchard owners of Iran’s southern provinces of Bushehr, Fars, Khuzestan, Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan have to be on the constant lookout for locust swarms,” another PPO official, Saeed Moein, has been quoted as saying.
The PPO has requested 2 trillion rials ($8 million) as government aid to battle the desert locusts in the current fiscal year.
Desert locusts are yellow flying insects that grow to 10 centimeters and are considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. A swarm covering one square kilometer contains up to 80 million locusts and can eat as much food in one day as 35,000 people. And they move up to 150 kilometers a day and 3,000 kilometers throughout their lifespan.
Female locusts lay up to 80 eggs and live three to five months in three stages: egg, hopper and adult.
The insect is among the most dangerous pests. They can destroy all greenery, including grains, fodder, vegetables, tree barks and even weeds, 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 the Persian Gulf.