FAO pesticide donation arrived on time [Archives:2007/1070/Local News]

July 23 2007

Fatima Al-Ajel
SANA'A, July 22 ) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has sent a press release reporting that Yemen has received a pesticide donation from Mauritania to combat the worst locust outbreak in nearly 15 years.

An aircraft leased by WFP on behalf of FAO arrived in Sana'a, July 21, 2007 carrying 35000 litres of pesticides donated by the government of Mauritania. In addition, an agricultural spray plane chartered by FAO will be arriving in Sana'a within the next days for locust control in the interior of Yemen.

The donated chemicals were transported by air to Yemen in a joint operation between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

An intensive campaign, in which a helicopter from the government of Yemen will participate for emergency operation, will be used to prevent massive locust infestations and serious damage to food crops in Yemen and neighboring countries.

The Director-General of Yemen's Desert Locust Control Centre Abdu Fara Al-Romaih confirmed that the quick support provided by Mauritania in cooperation with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as World Food Program (WFP) arrived on time and it would be used in combating locusts in governorates of Hadhramout, Shabwa, Marib, and Al-Mahrah .

“The stocks for pesticide were consumed through the previous campaigns and now we need the pesticides donated by the government of Mauritania to continue the campaign.” Al-Romaih explained.

Some citizens reported that they saw many locusts in Sana'a. However Al-Romaih ensured that the locusts that are spreading in Sana'a are coming from outside Yemen and they are not from the southern edge of the Empty Quarter. “According to the wind directions, the locust came with the southern and northern wind and the locusts are not flocks as the citizens thought.” Al-Romaih Clearfield.

An estimated 50,000 to 75000 hectares infested by locusts may have to be treated through air and ground control for which FAO has leased vehicles from WFP's logistics centre in Dubai.

Desert Locusts have infested large areas in the remote interior of Yemen along the southern edge of the Empty Quarter, stretching from Marib to the Oman border. Locust numbers are likely to increase dramatically as a second generation of breeding continues in these areas over the next months. Agricultural crops in Wadi Hadhramaut and other areas including the Sana'a highlands can only be protected by successful locust survey and control operations.

“The pesticide donation made by Mauritania shows the country's commitment in the global control of Desert Locust. With the arrival of aircraft and pesticides, a massive control campaign can be launched over a large and remote area of rough terrain,” said FAO locust expert Christian Pantenius. “This should help to minimize the locust threat to local crops in most affected areas and to the neighboring countries.”

WFP Representative in Yemen Mohamed El-Kouhene stated that it is vital to work fast to minimize the crop damage, that caused by these locusts.

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided US$2.4 million to FAO to support the government of Yemen's control of the Desert Locust over the next three months. The funds will support aircraft, pesticide, equipment, vehicles, locust control, and logistics experts.

Although Yemen imports around 75 percent of its food needs, anything that might impact the country's limited agricultural areas – estimated at between just one and two percent of the country's land mass – could lead to a sharp price increase of domestically grown food. The rural people will be most affected and they are already the most vulnerable being on average much poorer than the urban population

The FAO warned, a month ago, that Yemen faces its worst outbreak of crop-devouring locusts in nearly 15 years. On July 4, the FAO released a statement that desert locusts had infested large areas in the remote interior of Yemen along with the southern edge of the Empty Quarter, stretching from Marib to the border with Oman.