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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spread of Locusts Prompts FAO to Issue Special Alert

ROME -- Locust swarms have spread from Kazakhstan into Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, creating serious problems for farmers, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.

In a special alert, the FAO said farmers and governments in all affected countries lacked adequate resources and technology to deal with the problem.

"The locusts, in addition to causing severe localized damage to crops in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, have laid eggs over millions of hectares," the alert said.

"These eggs, unless destroyed, will hatch in the spring of 2000, posing a greater threat to next year's crops," it added.

In the same report, FAO said the outlook for the 1999 grain harvest in Russia remained uncertain. Preliminary estimates indicate that the aggregate area sown to grains has fallen by eight percent to about 48 million hectares, FAO said.

Following last year's reduced harvest, officially put at only 49 million metric tons, Russia needed a good cereal harvest this year to meet minimum requirements and replenish seriously depleted stocks, it said.

Current indications pointed to a harvest of 60 million tons, which FAO said was "inadequate to cover domestic needs, let alone to replenish stocks."

The FAO said locust infestations were an annual occurrence mainly in Kazakhstan and to a lesser extent the Russian Federation but their scale and intensity had increased steadily.

It said infestations were reported in Russia in areas which had not experienced them since the 1920s.

In the drier western areas of Kazakhstan, they have covered 1 million hectares this year, twice the area that had been anticipated.

In Russia, the hot, dry weather in July has created ideal conditions for locusts. Official indications are that infestations cover 1.1 million hectares.

The report said the locust damage would aggravate the impact of economic problems in the agricultural sector.