Second generation locusts cover Hadramout and Shabwa [Archives:2007/1065/Local News]

July 5 2007

Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, July 4 ) While locust spread in other governorates around the republic is hardly noticeable, the second-generation locusts cause a real threat in Hadramout and Shabwa. National teams are already in the field and international assistance is yet to come.

With an average of 300 locusts per square meters, the desert locusts situation has become extremely serious at most summer breeding areas, said Dr. Abdu Al-Romaih director of the Desert Locusts Monitoring and Control Center. The center has already 14 survey and control teams sent to the fields. The teams are distributed in Shabwa, Hadramout and Marib covering an area of 81,186 hectares, while the infested area is estimated to be 37,386 hectares.

Summer DL breeding areas caused numerous hopper bands to form within large areas. New swarms will form and another generation of breed will occur in July that will threaten crops and pastures.

According to the center, the ecological conditions are considered favorable for DL breeding at those areas.

International experts will be arriving Friday 6 July, and hopefully the preparations for an aerial campaign would start, especially in Hadramout and Shabwa where the real threat exists.

Local response

So far the infested areas are of the natural vegetation, and the field teams have protected the economic plantation or crop fields in advance. However beehives and bee farms could be severely damaged. This is why the DLMCC coordinates with the local councils in the areas and alerts bee farmers to evacuate the infested areas before spraying it with pesticides.

Dr. Al-Romaih praised the cooperation of the local councils and bee farmers in Hadramout. “We received excellent cooperation from Hadramout, but not so much from Shabwa. We would like to encourage the latter to excavate the bee farms urgently before the bee habitat gets affected by the locust control chemicals,” he said.

As for the impact of these chemicals on the soil, he confirmed that it does not have lasting harm because the impact of the pesticides ceases within three days because of the sun and heat.

The teams are controlling the spread of the locusts through foot & vehicle transects. Aerial control is yet to come through the international assistance promised to Yemen.

Financial assistance

Since the very first alert, the government of Yemen has dedicated more than fifty million Yemeni Riyals (approx USD 250,000) to fighting desert locusts. The United Nations Emergency Fund has allocated US 2,600,000$ for fighting the spread of the locusts.

The money is yet to arrive.

Dr. Al-Romaih commented that currently, the center has enough supplies to last for two or three weeks. Unless international assistance from the UN and neighboring countries comes as promised and agreed, there is a great risk that they locusts would spread to economic farms and vegetation causing much financial loss.

The next destination for the locusts is most likely to be Saudi Arabia and UAE.

“Our hope is that we are successful at eliminating the locusts completely before a third generation appears. The problem is that with the unfortunate attacks in Marib, the insurance on planes has doubled 200% and this means that most of the dedicated fund from the UN would be spent on insurance rather than on the required chemicals or locust control equipments.”

Dr. Al-Romaih added that Yemen acquired this funding through a detailed long process. He feared that for a new request to increase the dedicated amount to eradicating the spread of the insects is accepted, it could be too late.