06/03/2020, 10.47
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Tehran, Delhi and Islamabad face locust invasion

The desert locust is considered the most "destructive" migratory plague in the world. A single swarm can contain up to 80 thousand specimens. FAO: "increased" risk on the border between India and Pakistan. A disaster coupled with the coronavirus emergency and seasonal cyclones. A joint strategic plan is being studied between the three countries.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Tehran, Delhi and Islamabad are developing a joint strategic plan to deal with the invasion of grasshoppers that threatens to frustrate crops and endanger the livelihoods of an entire region already facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The desert locust, in fact, is considered the most "destructive" migratory plague in the world and a single swarm, covering one square kilometer, can contain up to 80 million specimens. In recent days, the FAO (the UN agency for food and agriculture) has spoken of an "increased risk" on the border between India and Pakistan.

In these hours, India, also affected by the devastating passage of Cyclone Amphan on the east coast, is awaiting a response from the Pakistani government for a joint action against the threat. Iran has already given its consent to the plan, which includes, among others, the supply of an airborne pesticide, the Malathion, to be poured on the locust populations that have invaded the south-eastern provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan and South Khorasan.

The plan is the result of some detailed reports that have emerged in the last period, according to which "swarms of destructive parasites" are heading towards India, after having developed and grown in the Iranian and Pakistani provinces of Baluchistan. Sources from the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture confirm the request for help sent to the army for the second consecutive year, for a contribution in the fight against the invasion in the south of the country that threatens to destroy crops worth at least seven billion dollars.

Locust swarms also threaten livestock, endanger rural communities and can have a negative impact on the tourism industry already on its knees due to the new coronavirus. Ministry spokesman Mohammad Reza Mir points out that over so far, desert grasshoppers have attacked over 200,000 hectares of orchards and farmland in seven of the 31 provinces of the Islamic Republic. He thanks the army "for the great help", especially in logistics and in the supply of special means.

The phenomenon is not new in East Africa and West Asia, but this year it has assumed even greater proportions than the already alarming ones of 2019. On the African continent there has been the worst invasion of the last 70 years, which has hit 23 nations . According to data from the World Bank, which has already allocated 500 million in aid, the total damages could amount to up to 8.5 billion dollars for 2020.

Among the Indian states affected by the invasion of locusts are Rajasthan in the north-west, Punjab in the north, Gujarat in the west and Madhya Pradesh in the center. The alarm also affects the territory of the capital. In Pakistan, locusts have already devoured substantial quantities of crops in over 60 provincial districts, including Baluchistan in the southwest. The country is stepping up efforts to tackle the phenomenon through pest control systems, including aircraft. In neighboring India, people have also resorted to more "artisanal" methods such as banging tools to make noise and playing loud music to scare parasites.

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