Wednesday, April 25, 2012 -
A plague of Moroccan locusts has swept into southwestern Tajikistan from neighboring countries in recent days and damaged farmland and pastures, Tajik officials said.
The pests have eaten crops over an area covering more than 100 acres in the province of Khatlon, causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses to local farmers in the impoverished country, the Avesta.tj news agency reported local agricultural officials as saying.
Moroccan locusts are among the toughest of around 100 species of locusts. They are heat-resistant to temperatures reaching 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Khatlon experts said the authorities in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are partly to blame for not applying preventative chemical treatments on their territories bordering Tajikistan.
The Tajik agriculture ministry has launched a $10 million nationwide program to combat the locusts. The initiative has received the support of the UN Food and Agriculture Program (FAO) and a handful of other international organizations.
In February, the FAO donated satellite communications equipment and other special technologies, including vehicle-mounted Ulva spraying systems, and protective clothing to help the country fend off the invasions.
The locust hordes penetrate into Tajikistan every year during the spring-summer period.