locust threat puts Moroccan citrus crop at risk
$17 Million Needed for Control Campaigns
(Reissued as received.)
, 27 April (FAO) -- Despite intensive control efforts, the threat of desert locusts in West and North-West Africa remains “extremely serious”, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today. Rome
“Widespread laying, hatching and band formation are in progress in the spring breeding areas south of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria”, said Keith Cressman, FAO Locust Information Officer.
“This is the most serious locust situation in the region for 10 years”, he added.
The citrus crops grown in
and exported to Morocco Europeand North America, with an estimated value of $400 million, could be at risk in the coming months.
“There are also large locust populations in northern
and some in Mauritania as well”, Cressman said. Niger
“It is very difficult to find and treat all of the desert locust infestations because many of them are scattered in remote areas”, Cressman said. “This is further compounded by insufficient resources being available in
and Mauritania , and a rapid drying up of funds in other countries.” Niger
So far in April, nearly 200,000 hectares of locust infestations have been treated in
. In Morocco , locust control operations are under way against swarms that laid eggs in a broad swath of the country from its borders with Algeria in the west and with Morocco in the east. Tunisia
Swarms Move across North-West Africa
In early April, some swarms moved from
across Morocco into western Algeria , where around 3,700 hectares have been treated. Similar infestations may be present in southern Libya , the FAO said. Tunisia
, new swarms are forming in the north where date palms, sorghum and oat crops have been damaged. Control operations are hampered by limited resources; only 10,800 hectares have been treated so far this month. Mauritania
The situation is now less serious in northern
and on the Sudan in Red Sea Coast , following extensive control operations between December and March, when about 200,000 hectares of infestations were treated. Saudi Arabia
More than $17 million have been spent since October 2003 on locust control operations that have treated nearly 1.4 million hectares. Most of this money was provided from national budgets within the affected countries.
The FAO has contributed an emergency project to
and Mauritania to the value of $800,000. Morocco
The FAO Director General Jacques Diouf has recently decided to more than double the FAO’s contribution, providing assistance additionally to
, Algeria , Chad , Mali and the Niger . Sudan
Donors such as the European Commission,
, Italy , Norway and the Spain have contributed more than $5 million so far. United States
and Morocco have assisted Algeria , Mali and Mauritania with pesticides, vehicles, equipment and experts, and Niger has provided substantial support to the Saudi Arabia . Sudan
$17 Million Needed
An additional $17 million is needed to continue the current campaign during the spring and extend it to breeding areas in the
Sahelin West Africaduring the summer, the FAO said.
The last desert locust plague, in 1987-1989, took several years and more than $300 million before it was brought to an end.
Crop damage has been reported on pasture, date palm, cereal and vegetation crops in most of the countries, affecting local farmers and nomads.
A locust upsurge of such a dimension can only be controlled by using insecticides, the United Nations agency said. The FAO is applying best practice methods to reduce risks to health and the environment.
At the same time, the FAO is promoting increased use of environmentally friendly biological control.
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