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'Very large percentage' of locusts exterminated — agriculture minister

By JT - Apr 19,2021 - Last updated at Apr 19,2021

AMMAN — Minister of Agriculture Khalid Hneifat said that a “very large percentage” of desert locusts were exterminated through the efforts of the ministry's staff and the support of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) as well as other agencies.

In a statement on Sunday, cited by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Hneifat said that one swarm of locusts can consist of millions of insects, which sometimes covers hundreds of kilometres, adding that the swarms that entered the Kingdom were mostly at the Mudawwara area. 

All the necessary equipment was used in cooperation with the RJAF to completely eradicate the insects, the minister added.

In Al Ruwaished area, east of the Kingdom, the minister indicated that the problem is under control and exploration teams are monitoring the remaining areas to look out for any other swarms.

He pointed out that the small numbers of desert locusts that arrived in the Azraq area were exterminated following intense control efforts and continuous exploration work on the borders.

He stressed that the follow-up is ongoing and that the exploration teams, the control of pesticides and machinery teams, and the Agriculture Ministry’s departments will stay on high alert and coordinate among each other until the locusts are completely eradicated.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s anti-locust teams on Sunday announced that "limited number of desert locusts" were spotted in Mazar District in Karak and Ghour Al Safi in the Jordan Valley. 

Ministry’s spokesperson Lawrence Majali said that the spotted locusts are still immature and in the mating and migration stage, which does not pose a serious threat to crops. He added that intermittent swarms came from the eastern border through the desert region, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

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, the organisation said. 

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 FAO.

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