Locust outbreak in Yemen poses risk to surrounding countries: UN

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UNITED Nations, April 13 (APP): The presence of recently discovered  Desert Locust infestations in Yemen, where conflict is severely hampering control operations, poses a potential threat to crops in the region, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Wednesday.
The UN agency urged neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman  and Iran, to mobilize, survey and control teams, and to take all necessary measures to prevent the destructive insects from reaching breeding areas situated in their respective territories.
Strict vigilance is also required in Morocco and Algeria, especially in  areas south of the Atlas Mountains, which could become possible breeding grounds for Desert Locust that have gathered in parts of the Western Sahara, Morocco and Mauritania, FAO added.
Groups of juvenile wingless hoppers and adults as well as hopper bands  and at least one swarm formed on the southern coast of Yemen in March where heavy rains
associated with tropical cyclones Chapala and Megh fell in November 2015.
“The extent of current Desert Locust breeding in Yemen is not well known  since survey teams are unable to access most areas. However, as vegetation dries out along the coast more groups, bands and small swarms are likely to form,” Keith Cressman, FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer, said in a statement.
He noted that a moderate risk exists that Desert Locusts will move into  the interior of southern Yemen, perhaps reaching spring breeding areas in the interior of central Saudi Arabia and northern Oman.
There is a possibility that this movement could continue to the United  Arab Emirates where a few small swarms may appear and transit through the country before arriving in areas of recent rainfall in southeast Iran.
FAO said it is assisting technical teams from Yemen’s Ministry of  Agriculture and Irrigation in conducting field survey and control operations in infested coastal areas, as part of the agency’s continuing support to the country’s locust control
efforts.