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FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO warns against desert locust outbreak in Yemen and calls for emergency meeting in Cairo

FAO's Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region organizes an emergency consultation to discuss ways to stop locust outbreak in the region

Cairo, 10 July 2019 - Desert locust is one of the most serious pests that attack and destroy crops. Outbreaks and epidemics cause heavy economic losses, affecting food security of rural and pastoral populations and leading to severe food shortages.

Since November 2018, desert locust breeding areas in the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Sudan and the Horn of Africa have seen large locust outbreaks. Many locust swarms have formed and moved among winter, spring and summer breeding areas, causing extensive damage to agricultural crops in many countries of the region.  The pest has so far spread into Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Somalia and Ethiopia, as well as Iran, Pakistan and India in the eastern region.

These countries have carried out intensive and continuous control operations for more than seven months, which helped stop the flow of locusts into other countries in the region. Approximately 500 000 ha have so far been treated.

Although the situation is now stable in a number of countries, the locust situation in Yemen is developing more seriously than ever, especially in light of the currently favorable environmental conditions for continued breeding due to good rainfall. In addition, the country is not carrying out extensive control operations due to lack of resources and the difficulty of conducting control in many infested areas, in addition to the widescale spread of locusts in many Yemeni governorates. This means that the current outbreak might continue for a long time, with the spring and winter breeding season linking with of the summer breeding season. The signs of this outbreak have started to appear, with locust swarms moving from Yemen to eastern Somalia, south Eritrea and north-eastern Ethiopia, with the danger that they might also expand into the other countries of the region.

Given the gravity of the current situation and the importance of rapid intervention to prevent another major outbreak similar to the one that occurred between 2003 and 2005, FAO's commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC) called for an emergency consultation meeting on 11 July 2019 for its member states on the level of agriculture undersecretaries.

The meeting aims to update member states on the locust situation in the region and the future possibilities. It will urge the member states to take all necessary measures to prepare for any further possible developments, and to assess available national resources to deal with locust crises, such as spraying machines, pesticides, vehicles and financial and logistical support. The participants in the meeting will also discuss promotion of regional cooperation and solidarity and multilateral support among the countries of the region.


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