Three locust swarms invade Al-Mahar’a [Archives:2008/1132/Local News]

February 25 2008

Hamed Thabet
Al-Mahar'a, Feb 23 ) Three locust swarms invaded the Arabian Sea and entered Yemen near Al-Mahar'a on Friday. The three swarms journeyed from Ethiopia across the Horn of Africa, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had previously predicted.

The locust swarms must be controlled and stopped, otherwise farm areas in Shabwa, Al-Mahra'a, and Hadramout will be in real danger, said the FAO.

The locust swarms, which are as large as five square-kilometers (two square miles), may also threaten Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti and western Yemen, according to the FAO's website. The locusts could inflict destruction on Yemeni farms, said Abduh Fare' Al- Rumaih, the director of National Center for Desert Locust Control (DLCC). Though Al-Rumaih said that there is no need to be worried at present, the FAO warned the DLCC that the three locust swarms would invade Yemen, making it the worst invasion in 15 years. “The swarms, once inside Yemen, might breed and spread. The locust problem could increase if the swarms change their direction from desert to rural areas, which are suitable places for reproducing and laying eggs,” explained Al-Rumaih.

Yemen had suffered economically in the agricultural sector because of locust swarms during the last 20 years. The FAO said that financial losses totaled around $60 million.

Yemen has a stockpile of about 13 tons of anti-locust chemicals, but it would only last for three to four days, and Yemen desperately needs more anti-locust chemicals in order to fight off the most recent swarms, said a source in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The locust control center requested FAO aid that would include two insecticide-spraying helicopters in order to help Yemen annihilate the locust threat. “Survey and control operations are difficult because of the mountainous terrain and because the swarms are highly mobile