Yemen: Locust outbreak in Al-Jawf and Marib denied

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Moneer Al-Omari

SANA'A, June 19 - Agricultural and pest control officials told media outlets of a desert locust outbreak in Marib and Al-Jawf after it was confined to Al-Mahrah and Hadramout governorates and to a lesser degree in Shabwa governorate. However, such allegations were denied by the general director of the Desert Locusts Control Center, Abdu Al-Rumaih who noted that his center's field committees recorded only single cases of some locusts, but not in swarms.

Al-Rumaih added that the field teams surveyed many areas in Marib and detected single cases of locusts in Al-Falag, with 66 locusts in each hectare. The same finding applies to the Al-Zunimah area, an area planted with grains and fodder, with a lower percentage than recorded in Al-Falag.

Similarly, locals in Marib denied information by official experts, declaring that locusts exist in a very small percentage. Marib Press reported many locals in Marib as saying, "Their governorate is not afflicted by locust," maintaining that the government improvises such news to receive more support from foreign and international agencies.

Al-Rumaih added that they don't expect any locust outbreaks in other parts of the republic and the locust swarms will remain in the Hadramout's Manoukh, Thamoud and Zamakh regions until September. If rains fall in Marib and Al-Jawf, such rainfall will attract new swarms to those areas.

"Desert locusts, as clear from their name, breed in desert areas and upon becoming adult locusts, they invade other places," Al-Rumaih said replying to a question regarding a potential locust outbreak in the midlands or western areas. However, he warned that the locusts might invade other areas if they aren't controlled in their breeding areas.

He pointed out that the government has provided them an additional budget to continue their fight against the locusts. The center now has more than 13 field teams and each team has two cars equipped with needed requirements, maintaining that they sought the help of donors and the Food and Agriculture Organization to provide them with pesticides and planes for spraying and such equipment. He also revealed that the organization will provide his center with a new environmentally friendly pesticide.

Regarding the pesticides used now, Al-Rumaih said that they are using pesticides approved worldwide and at safe levels in order not to leave any future impact on people, animals and the environment, noting that the correct dosage of 0.5 liters per hectare and application will prevent any damage to the environment or people,.

Field reports by Locust Control Center affiliates assure that there are no locust swarms in Marib or Al-Jawf now and the teams are continuing to survey the two governorates in anticipation of any increased locust activity.

Al-Rumaih maintained that the damages by locusts in Al-Mahrah and Hadramout areas remain at the lowest levels because locusts exist in desert areas and they haven't reached agricultural lands and grazing areas. Still, locusts affect some wild grazing areas meant for livestock and bees.

He went on to say that they have collaborated with the local authority and governors to inform beekeepers in Al-Mahrah, Hadramout and Shabwa to remove their hives from affected areas in order to allow field committees to spray pesticides for the locusts, noting that bees are of great importance to the national economy and they cannot do anything until beekeepers remove their hives from those areas.

Yemen witnessed similar locust invasions in 1986, 1987 and the most serious outbreak in 1993. Other invasions occurred in 2002 and 2004; however, they were successfully controlled.