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Egypt Prepares for Locust Surge with 54 Border Bases

Egypt Prepares for Locust Surge with 54 Border Bases

Wednesday, 20 February, 2019 - 07:30
A farmer protects his rice field from locusts by chasing away them with reeds at Amparihibe village on May 7, 2014 in Tsiroanomandidy, western Madagascar. AFP
Cairo - Hazem Badr
Twenty days ago, the desert locust control teams on the Egyptian borders detected a swarm of locus coming from Sudan. The swarm had been countered, but, February's heavy rainfalls in the neighboring countries contributed to further locust breeding, which may lead to fiercer attacks.

These concerns compelled the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to warn from upcoming attacks that could occur in Egypt.

FAO called for more alertness and lately held a regional meeting in Jordan for prevention directors from 19 Near Eastern and North African countries.

FAO's Regional Director for Communication and Knowledge for the Near East and North Africa Mohammed Al-Aidarous AlHashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat: "The meeting aims at maintaining coordination among countries to activate the early warning mechanisms indicating the movement of locust from a country to another, in a way that helps enhance prevention measures."

The FAO-adopted monitoring mechanisms revealed that heavy rainfalls and storms in February helped increase locust swarms, causing a rapid spread in Sudan and Eritrea that could reach many countries including Egypt.

Hashemi stresses that to face this phenomenon, monitoring mechanisms should be activated, noting that the coming three months will be crucial in controlling locusts before the reproduction season kicks off in the summer, and expose the agricultural harvests to higher risks.

According to FAO data, a desert locust can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food (about 2g) per day, which means that a square-kilometer swarm of 40 million locusts can eat the same amount of food consumed by 35,000 people, 20 camels, and six elephants in one day.

Dr. Mamdouh Sibai, head of the Central Department of Pest Control at the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, said 54 bases on the border are set to monitor locusts.

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