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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture cleared 6,550 hectares of land of desert locust between Mar. 1 and 15.
The ministry said field control and exploration teams have stepped up their efforts to eliminate the swarms of the insects that have hit the Eastern, Hail and south Al-Jouf regions in unprecedented numbers. Strong winds and dense swarms in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have had a big effect on the numbers of locusts in northeastern Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.
The situation is improving in the Kingdom, officials said, with most of the swarms in the eastern region and Hail eliminated. Another wave is expected in the coming days.
The ministry said that locust swarms are normal at this time of year, especially in the north, northwest, Riyadh, Qassim, much of Hail, Madinah and Tabuk. It added that as a result of drought in many places infested by locusts, and continual sand storms, medium-to-high-intensity swarms of diba, or young, locusts are expected in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, Al-Jubail, Nairyah and Qaryat Al-Ulya areas. Low-intensity waves are expected in Qassim, northeastern Riyadh, northern Hail and south of Al-Jouf.
Field control and exploration teams have greatly increased their efforts to prepare for the coming waves, the ministry said. They have deployed control and exploration vehicles, and the ministry has hired a national company to assist with the efforts to eliminate the swarms and implement precautionary measures against potential threats from nearby countries such as Yemen, Oman, India, Pakistan and Iran.
The implementation of seasonal plans by the ministry’s Locusts Control and Migratory Pests Center also continues, including pre-emptive surveys and exploratory operations to combat locusts and other pests, protect the Saudi agricultural sector and prevent swarms spreading to neighboring countries.
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