Egypt's Minister of Agriculture Ezz El-Din Abu Sitit said Sunday the ministry has taken precautions to face an upcoming swarm of desert locusts in the Red Sea area, following warnings Friday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
"As a precautionary procedure, the Central Department for Pest Control in the Ministry of Agriculture is coordinating with agencies and authorities in the country to intensify the environmental survey of desert locusts to stop any locust attack that may affect Egypt's agricultural production," Abu Sitit said in a media statement Sunday.
The minister added that the department is working to stop the advance the swarm of desert locusts to the Nile Delta and Nile Valley as well as newly reclaimed agricultural land in the desert.
The FAO issued a warning Friday of a possible outbreak of desert locusts, originating in Sudan and Eritrea and spreading rapidly on both sides of the Red Sea, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The minister added that Egypt is following the movement of the locusts and that the situation is currently stable.
Mohamed El-Kersh announced Sunday that the Ministry of Agriculture took its precautions to fight the desert locusts through 54 bases and central operation rooms across the country.
According to FOA's statement issued Friday, recent heavy rains and cyclones triggered a surge in the desert locust population in December 2018 in Sudan and Eritrea.
The statement said that control operations treated nearly 85,000 hectars since December of which 30,000 hectares were treated in the past two weeks in Egypt, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
“The next three months will be critical to bring the locust situation under control before the summer breeding starts,” FAO locust expert Keith Cressman said in the statement.
The FAO will hold a meeting in Jordan next week with affected countries to review the current situation with the aim of intensifying survey and control operations.
In an e-mailed comment to Reuters, Cressman said the last major desert locust upsurge was in 2003-2005 when more than 12 million hectares were treated in west and northwest Africa, incurring a cost of about $750 million including food aid.
Egypt did not suffer significant losses in 2003-05, but did in 1954-55, according to historical records.