TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iran may use its military for a second year to help fight locusts that have invaded the south of the country, and Agricultural Jihad Ministry official was quoted as saying, as the swarms threaten to destroy crops worth more than $7 billion.
The locust invasion, seen as the worst in decades, compounds problems facing Iran, already hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak at home and seeing its oil exports sink to a record low as the virus crisis sharpens the impact of US sanctions which further limit shipments, Reuters reported.
Mohammadreza Mir, a spokesman for the ministry’s Plant Protection Organization (PPO), was quoted as saying by ILNA that the desert locusts had attacked more than 200,000 hectares of orchards and farmland in seven of Iran’s 31 provinces.
The affected areas, stretching from eastern Iran on the border with Pakistan to the southwestern border with Iraq, were likely to soon increase to one million hectares, Mir told ILNA.
“The military has promised to help fight the desert locusts, including by providing all-terrain vehicles for use in areas which are hard to access,” Iran ministry spokesman said. “Last year the military provided personnel and vehicles, and that was a big help.”
Mir said anti-locust operations had so far prevented “any damage,” without giving details.
PPO’s head, Mohammad Reza Dargahi, said last month that locust swarms threatened $7.4 billion worth of agricultural products across six provinces in southern Iran.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates agricultural losses to neighboring Pakistan from locusts could be as high as $2.2 billion for winter crops alone.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews