Efforts to save farms from locusts

By Zainab Al Nasseri — MUSCAT: Feb 19 – Oman, along with other countries of the region, on Sunday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Commission for Controlling Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC). The event was presided over by Dr Fuad bin Jaafar bin al Sajwani, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and attended by high-level officials from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and representatives from agencies concerned. Saleh al Abri from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said a fully equipped centre had been set up to study locusts and prepare emergency plans during a locust outbreak. He said the Sultanate has internationally been classified as a transit destination for locusts.
“Oman has found itself against locusts on many occasions, the last time in 2014, when the attack was contained through joint cooperation from all the concerned agencies,” he said.
Mamon bin Khmais al Alawi, Executive Secretary of the Commission, spoke about the regional and international efforts for locust control, emphasising that a united effort was needed to face challenges.
Abdulsalam Walad Ahmed, Deputy Director of FAO, said: “Desert locust is known for its ability to fly long distances. Cooperation is needed from all countries in the frontline region to get rid of them and protect our agricultural lands and lives as well.”
He said the strategy to combat locusts must rely on basic elements, which are “detection of breeding zones, early alarm and quick intervention to fight locusts during early phases”.
The event also included a photo exhibition on desert locusts and efforts made to fight the menace.
The commission will hold its 30th session and 34th executive meeting in Muscat from February 20 to 24 with participation of officials from the member countries.
The commission, established in 1967, is affiliated to FAO and based in Cairo, Egypt.
By 2006, it consisted of 16 members: Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Its function is to plan and promote research and training at national, regional and international levels. It is expected to survey and control desert locusts, and prepare a preventive strategy against locust infestations that might damage crops as well as grazing lands.
Locust information offices are located in the frontline countries: Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.