Ministries, Locals Anxious About Locusts

National Yemen

Locals Anxious About Locusts

By NY Staff

Winter breeding areas in Yemen have witnessed an extensive spread of locusts, especially in the Tihama and Hodeidah Governorates. This reflects a movement from some of the summer breeding areas in Hadramout, Shabwa, Marib, and al-Jawf. Regardless of location, locusts pose a serious threat of economic loss and declining agricultural productivity.

 Dr. Mohammed al-Qashim, Undersecretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation for the Agricultural Services Sector declared that “the Tihama area is witnessing an infestation of desert locusts, which can bring catastrophic economic consequences to the agricultural situation if we do not control the spread of these insects. [We also must stop] favorable conditions for breeding.”

Al-Qashim showed that locusts cause significant economic losses in the agricultural regions of northern Tihama, especially the districts of Al-marwiea, al-Qatea, and the Hiran and Abs Valley.

He emphasized that teams responsible for fighting locusts in the field, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Authority in the development of Tihama, are currently carrying out acts of combat and control of the Desert Locust in the locust-affected areas. Teams are also carrying out field surveys to monitor locust reproduction and spreading.

Al-Qashim expected the locusts to continue breeding in winter breeding areas as a result of the continued existence of the vegetation on which locusts feed. Field surveys have confirmed this impression, showing that areas with high humidity and dense vegetation are highly suitable environments for locust reproduction. These areas will require intense surveillance activity.

Al-Qashim also stressed that the Ministry is currently preparing for the implementation of special operations in combat and control of the Desert Locust in the Directorate of Abs. This will be the starting point for field teams in the ongoing campaign in the locusts’ winter breeding areas. Teams in Abs and the surrounding areas will provide locals with tools and knowledge for effective locust control.

The agent services sector commented, “the efforts to control locusts have faced many difficulties, particularly in financial and security areas.” He called on the Ministries of Interior and Defense to assume their responsibilities in providing security and protection equipment to field teams, as much of the teams’ work has been interrupted by looting and other problems.

Regarding international support, Dr. al-Qashim noted that the ministry is involved in regular communication with international organizations, in particular the Locust Control Organization of FAO, to gain valuable insight and knowledge in the fight against locusts. He pointed out that the spread of locusts leads to swarms that are incredibly difficult to control given Yemen’s current tools and capabilities.