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Agriculture Ministry on high alert as swarms of desert locusts near Kingdom

By JT - Feb 18,2020 - Last updated at Feb 18,2020

The Ministry of Agriculture raised the state of alert related to the control of locusts from medium to high after desert locust swarms reached parts of Saudi Arabia, some 500 kilometres from the Jordanian border (Al Rai photo)

AMMAN — The Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday said that the state of alert related to the control of locusts has been raised from medium to high.

According to a ministry statement, cited by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Shahahdeh called for raising the state of alert to high after follow-ups showed that desert locust swarms had reached some parts of Saudi Arabia, mainly Hail, some 500 kilometres from the Saudi-Jordanian borders.   

Shahahdeh said that the ministry is closely following up on the desert locusts' movement from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, stressing the "readiness" of the ministry’s qualified and trained staff to face the swarms with the support of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Royal Badia Forces and the Jordan Customs Department, among other partners. 

The ministry urged the public not to publish any information except that 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 Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (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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