$2.3m earmarked for fighting locusts in southeastern Iran

May 19, 2019

TEHRAN – Iranian parliament, known as Majlis, has allocated a total budget of 100 billion rials (nearly $2.3 million) to fight desert locusts which have penetrated into 6 provinces in southern and southeastern Iran, head of agriculture comittee of Majlis has said.

Desert locusts have infested the provinces of Bushehr, Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman, Khuzestan, and Sistan–Baluchestan, which resulted in major losses on farming lands and gardens, Ahamd Ali Keikha said.

Not fighting them would result in their spread through the whole country, he warned, IRNA reported on Saturday.

Pest-control measures require special equipment and fund, he said, adding, since early March, the related organizations have been overburdened due to flooding, therefore, locusts’ breakout has not been considered a priority.

Currently, some 100 billion rials (nearly $2.3 million) is earmarked to control the pests outbreak, he further highlighted, adding, another budget amounting to 200 billion rials (nearly $4.6 million) is also needed to completely eradicate them.

So far, substantial aerial and ground pest control operations have been carried out by national authorities, while more operations are essential to overcome the issue, he concluded.

Earlier in April, Behnam Sa’edi, Iran’s Crisis Management Organization spokesperson said that some 300,000 hectares of farming lands are threatened by desert locusts’ breakout.

Desert locusts are short-horned grasshoppers that can form large swarms and pose a major threat to agricultural production, livelihoods, food security and the environment and economic development.

FAO explains that adult locust swarms can fly up to 150 km a day with the wind. Female locusts can lay 300 eggs within their lifetime while an adult insect can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day - about two grams every day. A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people and the devastating impact locusts can have on crops poses a major threat to food security, especially in already vulnerable areas.

During quiet periods (known as recessions) desert locusts are usually restricted to the semi-arid and arid deserts of Africa, the Near East and South-West Asia that receive less than 200 mm of rain annually. This is an area of about 16 million square kilometers, consisting of about 30 countries.

According to a report updated on May 3, FAO announced that during the past few weeks, the desert locust situation has intensified in the traditional spring breeding areas of Iran and Saudi Arabia.


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