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Press Release 00/05

FAO URGES CLOSE MONITORING OF DESERT LOCUSTS IN WEST AFRICA


Rome, 14 February 2000 -- The desert locust situation in west and north-west Africa requires careful monitoring following sightings of highly dispersed desert locust populations over large areas in the extreme north west of Mauritania and certain parts of northern Niger and Mali, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Desert locust populations have recently increased in northern Mauritania as a result of unusually heavy rainfall, which has led to favourable breeding conditions. FAO was first alerted to the situation by satellite imagery indicating large areas of green vegetation in a zone where the last major plague began in late 1987.

The locust populations are widely dispersed and as a result only small scale ground control is being applied. However, the situation requires regular monitoring to detect any new populations and stop them from spreading north into neighbouring Morocco and Algeria.

Northern Mauritania, the southern region of Morocco and western Algeria are traditional breeding grounds for desert locusts during the springtime. If desert locusts were to move north, an outbreak could develop, threatening crops and pastures.

In the Near East, FAO is reporting only insignificant numbers of desert locusts on the Red Sea coastal plains of Sudan. A similar situation is expected along the coastal plains between Qunfidah district in Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni border as well as on the coastal border between Egypt and Sudan.

FAO urges all countries affected or threatened by the desert locust to report regularly to the FAO Locust Group in Rome, Italy so that forecasters can monitor the situation and keep countries and donors informed.

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For further information, please contact Mr. Salah Al Bazzaz, FAO Media Relations: Tel. (0039) 06 5709 6328, Fax (0039) 06 5705 4974, or consult the FAO web site at http://www.fao.org


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