Locusts in Abu Dhabi: authorities exterminate swarm on Saudi border

Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority begins extermination process in Al Sila

FILE PHOTO: A desert locust is seen feeding on a plantation in a grazing land on the outskirt of Dusamareb in Galmudug region, Somalia December 22, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo
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UAE officials are stepping up efforts to safeguard farms against the threat of swarms of locusts which have descended on parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen in recent weeks.

Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority said it was exterminating insects found in Al Sila, an area of the emirate close to the border with Saudi Arabia.

The authority warned farmers against collecting or touching locusts in the area in a notice posted on Twitter.

Last month, the department carried out exterminations in Dalma Island using pesticides.

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.

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.

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

Agriculture chiefs said they were prepared to "confront any desert locust swarms coming from the breeding areas in the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea coasts".

The swarms of billions of locusts have also been destroying crops in Kenya, which hasn’t had such an outbreak in 70 years, as well as Somalia and Ethiopia, which last had comparable swarms a quarter of a century ago.

The insects have exploited favourable wet conditions after unusually heavy rains, and experts say climate change is expected to bring more of the same.

Locust swarms. The National
Locust swarms. The National

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, a UN agency, have warned that, if unchecked, the locust population in the region could be 500 times greater by June.