Jordan bracing for devastating desert locust swarms

[04-03-2013 12:00 AM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Jordan and neighboring countries are bracing this week for an invasion of desert locust swarms moving eastward from Egypt, estimated at over 30 million locusts.

The locusts originated from breeding that has been in progress since November in southeast Egypt, moving north along the Red Sea Coast, and reaching Cairo on Saturday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO announced.

The locusts reached Cairo by flying on warm southerly and southeasterly winds associated with a low pressure system over the central Mediterranean.

"As this system moves further east in the coming days, the winds will shift and come from the west and then from the north by 5 March. As locusts fly with the wind, this will allow them to move towards northeast Egypt, the Sinai and, perhaps, Israel and southwest Jordan today and tomorrow," a FAO Locust Watch statement said.

National locust teams in Egypt undertook control operations in east Cairo yesterday evening. Survey and control operations continue in all infested areas of the country.

Israel, Lebanon and Jordan have been alerted.

Jordan's Ministry of Agriculture is on alert and taking precautionary measures to combat the devastating bug, citing that it is in constant communication with the Desert Locust Combating agency in Egypt and the UN Food and Agriculture organization FAO.

The Ministry stated that exploratory teams have been formed to monitor the movement of the swarms and ensure the preparedness of teams and machinery needed to combat the invasion.

A Ministry statement said that its Agriculture directorates in southern governorates are on alert, coordinating with exploratory teams dispatched to Ma'an, Tafileh, Aqaba, and the southern Jordan Valley region, in cooperation with the Jordan Armed Forces, Desert patrol, and the Public Security Department.

The Ministry had sent agricultural engineers throughout last year to train on combating locust invasions, the latest being a training session held in Saudi Arabia.

The Desert Locust originating in southern Egypt is considered among the most devestating bugs, invading over 29 million square meters including 57 countries, and affecting 10 percent of the total crops every year.

The locust swarms hailed on northern Sinai this week, devastating crops, olive and date farms, and pastures in Areesh and Bi'r al Abed in Sinai.

In Israel, the Agriculture Ministry has issued a special warning to farmers in Israel following the swarms of locusts plaguing neighboring Egypt. The ministry said that it has been preparing for the possibility that the insect will invade Israel if Egypt fails to deal with it properly.

The ministry has set up a special hotline for farmers that may find an infestation. It also assigned a special taskforce to the mission and has contacted several suppliers of pesticides to ensure inventory is available, Israeli media reported.

Palestinian sources noted that the Hamas-government Agriculture Ministry is on alert bracing for the possibility of locust invasion.

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