The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) surveyed 200,967 donums to monitor and track the migration of desert locusts across border regions adjacent to the UAE during 2020. ADAFSA's control teams sprayed about 85,948 donums of infested regions using the recommended pesticides, to reduce desert locust's impact on crops and production.
For nearly two-and-a-half months, ADAFSA's control teams continued efforts in controlling desert locusts since spotting it in Dalma Island's farms, on February 22, 2020. This put ADAFSA on high alert to combat any swarms coming from locust breeding areas in the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea coasts.
Groups of locusts have been detected entering several areas in Al Dhafra (Al-Sila - Ras Mushaireb - Ras Ghamis), Ghayathi (Al Nazrah), and Ghweifat (the border strip with KSA). Meanwhile, control teams also monitored locusts' first existence in Al Ain region (border strip with the Sultanate of Oman - Umm Zmul - Al-Dhahirah - Al-Arad - Al-Wagan - Al-Awya - Al-Qou` - Boukariya - Al-Ain Al-Faida). In addition to controlling locusts in the western regions (As-Salamat - Siraa - Al-Anka - Al-Dumtha- Sweihan), ADAFSA's teams also surveyed the northern areas (Umm Ghafa - Al-Hayer - Masaken - Al-Shuwaib).
According to the desert locust situation report 2020, about 107,285 donums were surveyed in Al Ain, accounting for 53.4% of the total surveyed area at the emirate level, while control operations covered 73,930 donums, 86% of the total area on which locusts were combated. Meanwhile, about 83,439 donums were surveyed in Al Dhafra region (41.5%), and locusts were controlled in 74.27 donums (8.6%). For Abu Dhabi regions, the total surveyed area reached 5.1%, while areas witnessed control operations represented 5.4%.
Additionally, 125 engineers and 144 workers participated in control operations, while 72 vehicles used in spraying locusts. Aside from the pre-emptive survey, ADAFSA received 1,813 reports from farm owners to provide assistance in controlling locusts, including 1,618 reports from Al Ain farms, 126 reports from Al Dhafra farms, and 69 reports from Abu Dhabi farms.
In this regard, H.E. Mubarak Ali Al Qusaili Al Mansouri, Executive Director of Agricultural Affairs Sector at ADAFSA, said: "Upon the migration of locusts from breeding areas on the coast of the Red Sea, ADAFSA tracked swarms movement to control their spread. Therefore, ADAFSA has coordinated with various government entities to reduce desert locust's impact on crops and production."
Al Mansouri noted that ADAFSA is just responsible for combating locusts in farm areas, especially across border regions, while Abu Dhabi municipalities conduct control operations in forests and other areas. He stressed that locusts' survey and control operations are carried out in coordination with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center – Tadweer, and municipalities of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.
"Desert locusts pose a threat to crops and farm production, as their swarms can devour large amounts of vegetation. Therefore, controlling locusts is a shared responsibility between relevant government entities and farm owners," Al Mansouri stated.
Last year, ADAFSA has succeeded in controlling the spread of locust swarms in cooperation with various relevant government entities, by intensifying control efforts and increasing farmers' awareness about the safe ways to combat these insects, Al Mansouri indicated.
Furthermore, Al Mansouri highlighted the important role played by ADAFSA's 27 agricultural extension centers in controlling locusts, by providing support and technical guidance for farmers to apply the best practices for eliminating such insects. Moreover, the centers have coordinated with relevant government entities in detecting any locust swarms migrating to Abu Dhabi borders.
Al Mansouri added that ADAFSA's control teams supported efforts of about 1,813 farm owners, who reported the existence of locusts in their farms, in controlling these insects. He expressed happiness for farmers' confidence in ADAFSA's efforts to protect their farms from locusts and develop the agricultural sector.
Desert locusts come to the UAE from the Red Sea coasts, where they migrate in swarms extending for several kilometers to Saudi Arabia, and then to the UAE, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India. These insects are characterized by superior ability to fly and move from one continent to another, as they attack agricultural areas during their migration. In addition, locust swarms can devour large amounts of vegetation and crops, thus causing severe crop damage.