Yemen remains on high alert on desert locust

Source(s): Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Headquarters

 FAO in Yemen remains on high alert as the threat of desert locust emergence looms following recent heavy widespread rains. To avert losses due to the voracious pest, FAO recently delivered various equipment and machinery to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Fisheries (MAIF) in Aden.

Another consignment is expected to be handed over to the authorities in Sana’a soon. The equipment and machinery handover was done under the World Bank funded ‘Yemen Desert Locust Response project.’

Speaking during the handover ceremony, FAO Representative in Yemen, Dr. Hussein Gadain, said the World Bank funded project was a testimony of FAO’s pivotal role in reducing malnutrition and food insecurity in Yemen through efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems.

“The project, together with other interventions we are implementing in the country, demonstrate FAO’s commitment to better nutrition and food security, which is linked to sustainable production and decent livelihoods. This will ensure healthy diets for everyone in Yemen. Additionally, it is noteworthy that through this project, we intend to improve the infrastructure (construction of desert locust control centers and implement the pesticide management systems) and strengthen the national capacity for early warning and early response,” said Dr. Gadain.

The project is also designed to build farmers’ resilience to climate-induced locust infestations. The project improves the country's preparedness and institutional capacity against locust outbreaks, by establishing the desert locust network, including the desert locust centers in Sana’a and Aden. Additionally, there will be the construction of sub-centers in Hodeida, Shabwah, and Hadramaut. It also supports applying the early warning system in Yemen.

Critical and efficient machinery handed over

The machinery that was handed over include four types of spraying machines. Each of the machines suites a specific type of locust infestation targets, and work under specific conditions. These machines are used to spray the Ultra-Low Volume pesticides (applied at a volume application rate of 1 liter per hectare). They can spray both chemical and biological pesticides.

The machinery includes vehicle mounted sprayer, used especially for trees and bushes; a vehicle-mounted sprayer can treat 100 to 120 hectares a day. The other type of machinery also includes motorized knapsack sprayers used to spray the smaller infested areas and the handheld sprayer, which is used for small targets of locust infestations and treats 10 hectares per day.

Personal protective equipment to cater for up to 4 000 people (overalls, masks, goggles, caps, boots, and gloves) was also handed over together with the machinery. These will be used to protect the operators during pesticide spraying.

Equipment to establish temporary camps, that can accommodate up to 200 people, was also provided. These will be used in remote desert areas during the locust control campaigns. These include tents (big and small sizes), camping beds, blankets, chairs, and tables, cooking ware sets, sleeping bags, washing bags, water containers, and small-size generators.

The provision of equipment comes on the back of intensive training which was held with the participation of staff from MAIF, in Aden, who are involved in locust control campaigns. The training touched on desert locust survey and control operations and safe use of pesticides. Another training focused on environmental health and safety was also conducted. Additional training was conducted on sprayer maintenance.

The World Bank funded project is one of the various interventions by FAO to help rebuild and restore agricultural productivity and create livelihood opportunities in the face of ever-increasing food and nutrition insecurity in Yemen. To help in achieving this, in 2022 FAO in Yemen seeks to raise USD50 million to reach 1.5 million vulnerable people. So far, USD 28.8 million has been raised.

More about Desert Locust

The Desert Locust is the most destructive migratory pest in the world. They are ravenous eaters who consume their own weight per day, targeting food crops and forage. One square kilometer of the swarm can contain up to 80 million adults, with the capacity to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. The pest multiplies rapidly with a new generation of locusts emerging every 12 weeks. Each generation, on average, sees a 20-fold increase in the population.  

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