Locust swarms prompt high alert for Egyptian and Sudanese farmers

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Locust swarms prompt high alert for Egyptian and Sudanese farmers

Egyptian and Sudanese farmers have been put on high alert by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with increasing numbers of locust swarms detected throughout the region.800px-Desert_Locusts_(7057925967) (1)

The FAO Desert Locust Bulletin warned that numerous locust swarms invaded winter crops and fruit orchards in northern Sudan in mid-February and threatened to impact larger parts of Sudan and Egypt over the following weeks.

The FAO asked that all efforts be taken against the pest, as maturing swarms were already requiring attention in Sudan's Red Sea coastal plains, the Red Sea hills, the Eritrean border, southeast Egypt and Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast.

Aerial and ground control operations had treated at least five swarms in Sudan.

The pest comes as the winter breeding season continues in the Red Sea coastal plains and subcoastal areas in northeast Sudan and southeast Egypt.

Mamoon AlAlawi of the FAO's locust commission commented on the difficulty of controlling the pest, especially given regional challenges.

"Limited resources for locust monitoring and control, and political turmoil within and between affected countries further reduce the capacity of a country to undertake the necessary monitoring and control activities," he said in a report by the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks.

AlAlawi explained that although the regional winter breeding season will soon end, if heavy rains fall, more swarms could form. If swarms reach spring breeding grounds in interior Saudi Arabia, the situation could be potentially dangerous.

Zagazig University agriculture professor Ahmed Amr warned against the pest's entrance into Egypt.

"The fact is that locusts had already managed to cross the border into Egypt and this means that they will threaten our fields," Amr said in the UN report.

"This shows that the government did not do its job of combating these insects at the border well. Once these locusts are in, you cannot stop them from ravaging the crops."

AlAlawi said the first warning was sent out at the end of last summer. Although control efforts managed to decrease locust numbers, some swarms survived and headed to the Red Sea.

Photo: Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons


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