Abu Dhabi exterminates first locust swarm on island

Small groups of locusts were reported on Dalma Island and were 'promptly' dealt with

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The UAE is taking precautions to protect its farms against swarms of locusts that invaded parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen this month.

Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority on Tuesday said it surveyed a 6km sq area of farmland on Dalma Island and exterminated small gatherings of locusts using pesticides.

The authority said it had raised its level of preparedness to "confront any desert locust swarms coming from the breeding areas in the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea coasts."

Why are locust swarms spreading so fast?

Why are locust swarms spreading so fast?

It said teams would continue to monitor and survey agricultural areas in Abu Dhabi emirate, particularly on the border with Saudi Arabia where some locust swarms have been reported.

Dr Mohammed Al Hammadi, acting director of communication and community service, said the authority was working closely with an international body that monitors locust movements to ensure swift action and reduce potential crop loss.

"We received some complaints that small groups of desert locust were gathering in an agricultural area near the coast of Dalma Island," said Dr Al Hammadi.

Locust swarms. The National
Locust swarms. The National

He said the complaint was dealt with "promptly".

"And, by the grace of God, the locust numbers were controlled without causing any significant damage to the crops."

Dr Al Hammadi said the authority would work with farmers to keep them informed on any locust movements and encourage them to report any issues. He urged farmers not to burn farm waste or start fires to smoke out the insects. He also warned against collecting or eating the locusts to avoid health risks.

A devastating outbreak of locusts is spreading across East Africa, threatening millions of people with hunger.

The insects are travelling in huge swarms that can be as big as some major cities, sometimes about 1.5 times the size of New York City.

Locusts have destroyed crops in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and have now made their way to Sudan. These are places that’s already extremely vulnerable to famine.

Experts say a prolonged period of wet weather, including several rare cyclones that struck eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula over the last 18 months, led to the locust outbreak.

Millions of locusts invaded farms and agricultural areas in Riyadh, Qassim, Hail and the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia in the past few weeks.

On Monday, the kingdom's Ministry of Agriculture and Water said it cleared 2,600 hectares of land of desert locust in the Eastern Province.