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Belgium supports Lebanon in the surveillance and control of desert locust

24/05/2021

In mid-April 2021, Lebanon faced an unexpected desert locust incursion, which crossed the border from the Syrian Arab Republic. While Lebanon does not harbour desert locust breeding areas, it can be exposed to rare incursions during upsurges in the region, such as those that occurred in 2004 and 2013. In response to this latest incursion, the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) was able to quickly mobilize to manage the invasion as soon as it was identified and located, thanks to limited equipment and training provided earlier by the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust (CRC) in the Central Region. Given its lack of dedicated pesticide stocks and equipment for desert locust, the MoA was forced to use part of its existing pesticide stocks allocated for the sunn pest and spray using a Lebanese Army helicopter equipped with ultra-low volume (ULV) spraying equipment.

Since the onset of Lebanon’s current economic crisis and the severe devaluation of the Lebanese Pound, the MoA has not been able to procure any additional agricultural inputs (including sunn pest pesticides) or equipment needed for desert locust control operations. In light of its limited capacity to face possible additional desert locust swarms, the MoA urgently needs support to create an emergency stock of ULV pesticides, acquire suitable equipment and build the capacity of its staff to enable the country to effectively face any future desert locust invasions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – with USD 100 000 from the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities – will strengthen the MoA’s capacity to control desert locust invasions by providing the necessary equipment and pesticides. ULV sprayers (vehicle-mounted, backpack and hand-held) will be provided to the MoA, to be used by regional agricultural centres in the event of further incursions, alongside small quantities of desert locust pesticides. In addition, the CRC will organize training for the technical staff at the regional agricultural centres on surveillance using eLocust3g devices and the eLocust3m app, calibration and use of ULV sprayers, and evaluation and reporting.

A total of 41 MoA staff (14 women and 27 men) will benefit from the trainings. In addition, farmers across Lebanon will indirectly benefit from the subsequent survey and control operations regularly conducted by the trained MoA staff, thus reducing the risk of crop damage and loss by desert locust swarm incursions and reproduction in Lebanon. As a result, the project will ultimately reduce the risk of food shortages and food insecurity stemming from desert locust activity.