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Agriculture Ministry calls for regional extermination of locusts as swarms spread

By JT - Feb 20,2020 - Last updated at Feb 20,2020

AMMAN — The Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday called on international organisations and countries in the region to exterminate the current generation of the desert locust in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen. 

Heading a meeting regarding the desert locust, Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Shahahdeh said that the ministry is operating under a response plan based on reports issued by the Desert Locust Monitoring and Control Centre at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

He noted that the ministry is implementing the plan in partnership with the Interior Ministry, the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and the Public Security Department. 

He also warned of the possible risk of a humanitarian and food catastrophe due to locusts' ability to eat and destroy significant amounts of crops and reproduce by more than 500-fold. 

Jordan cooperates with other countries in following up on the movement of the locust swarms, which are now spreading across areas in Saudi Arabia close to the Kingdom — mainly Riyadh, Najran and Qassim — according to Shahahdeh. 

The ministry has equipped some 120 specialised personnel and prepared land and air spraying devices and pesticides to control the insect, he said. 

Earlier in the week, the ministry urged the public not to publish any information except that which is issued by its media centre, and to call 0791535256 or 0799063239 to make inquiries.

Desert locusts are short-horned grasshoppers that can form large swarms and pose a major threat to agricultural production, livelihoods, food security, the environment and economic development, according to the FAO website.

Adult locust swarms can fly up to 150km a day with the wind. Female locusts can lay 300 eggs within their lifetimes, while an adult insect can consume roughly its own weight — about two grammes — in fresh food each day. 

A very small swarm eats approximately the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people and the devastating impact locusts can have on crops poses a major threat to food security, especially in already vulnerable areas, according to the FAO.

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