Iran battling major locust invasion in south and west
The Iranian Agriculture Ministry has launched a major operation to battle swarms of locusts that have invaded farming lands in three provinces in the south and west of the country.
According to Press TV, Head of Iran’s Plant Protection Organization (PPO) Sa'eed Moein said on Sunday that the fight against locusts that hit Iran after arrival from Saudi Arabia on March 24 has now expanded to cover nearly 2,000 hectares of lands.
Moein said that locusts had invaded farming lands in 13 cities in Iran’s southwestern Province of Khuzestan as well as parts of the Provinces of Bushehr on the Persian Gulf and Ilam on the western border with Iraq.
He said locusts have arrived in Iran from areas to the west and northwest of Saudi Arabia this year unlike previous years when swarms had normally originated from eastern and central regions of the Arab country.
That change of direction could affect southern Iranian provinces more than those in the west, said the PPO head, adding that the Agriculture Ministry is well prepared to battle locusts in major farming hubs in Fars and Hormozgan Provinces in the upcoming weeks.
The PPO has asked the administrative government for an additional budget of 1 trillion rials ($4 million) to be better prepared to battle the voracious insects, said Moein.
He said an initial fund of 150 billion rials ($600,000) had been earmarked to farmers and government agencies in three provinces affected by the first wave of locusts.
The official said, however, that the control operations against locusts would expand to treat around 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands in southern and western Iran by September when the operation is expected to finish.