4 August 2003,
Rome/Kabul -- A major threat to food production in
northern Afghanistan has been averted after a successful locust
control campaign coordinated by FAO.
Following a survey of locust egg beds carried out in
2002, it had been estimated that over 400 000 hectares of
rainfed wheat and over 190 000 hectares of irrigated wheat would
be at risk from locust attack, FAO said today.
The campaign treated over 123 000 hectares of locust
infestations mainly with conventional pesticides.
For the first time in Afghanistan, some areas were
controlled with an insect growth regulator in an effort to
introduce more environmentally friendly methods.
In spite of the current outbreak, which started in
2001 and has been the most severe in living memory, damage to
the wheat crop was kept to a minimal level.
The control campaign
FAO provided spraying equipment, protective clothing
and training, together with two international and five national
The Irish non-governmental
organization GOAL supported 9 provincial coordinators, 11
supervisors and 117 local organizers, who led trained spray
teams, each of approximately 10 local people. GOAL also provided
transport and logistical support.
spray teams were supported by local communities. A team of
technical staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal
Husbandry was seconded from Kabul to participate in the
Control was carried out using
hand-held, battery-powered sprayers, which enabled an operator
to treat up to 15 hectares per day. Eight vehicle-mounted
sprayers, each capable of treating up to 100 hectares per day,
were also deployed. Farmers received training in the safe and
effective use of the equipment and pesticide.
Long-term strategy needed
In some areas of Kunduz and Takhar
provinces, access to locust breeding areas was restricted by the
presence of mines and unexploded ammunition and shells. As a
result, some locusts escaped control and attacked cotton and
Although the locust infestation
has been significantly reduced by this year's campaign,
further control will be necessary in 2004.
FAO is discussing with the Ministry of Agriculture on
possible sources of funding for 2004 and on developing a
sustainable long-term strategy to prevent future outbreaks.
This year's campaign was jointly
implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry,
FAO and GOAL. It was financed by Belgium, Ireland, Italy, the
United Kingdom, the United States of America and from FAO's
FAO globally coordinates
efforts to control locust outbreaks and plagues.
It is continually promoting improved locust control
methods by applying more environmentally friendly pesticides,
including the use of insect growth regulators, biopesticides,
and barrier-spraying instead of blanket treatments.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570