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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhs Urge Russia to Stop Locusts

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan -- A senior agricultural official from Kazakhstan's northern Pavlodar region said Thursday that locusts crossing from Russia were threatening the region's key grain crop.

"We do not have our own locusts, but there are locusts migrating from three Russian regions f Altai, Novosibirsk and Omsk," said Bakhtykaly Asainova, head of management of the region's agriculture department.

She said at a news briefing that Pavlodar had sent telegrams to the three Russian regions bordering Kazakhstan urging them to take urgent steps to tackle the infestation.

The appeal was similar to one made by Russia last year, when it accused Kazakhstan of failing to contain the spread of locusts north into Siberia.

"Recently we had meetings with representatives from the three Russian regions," Asainova said. "They admit that these are their locusts but that they do not have the funds for pesticides."

Locusts infested large areas of Kazakh grain-growing regions in 1999, prompting concern in Russia and China that the problem could spread.

Scientists have said Kazakh farmers had largely neutralized the insects ahead of this year's harvest campaign, which begins soon in the northern grain belt.

Asainova said a high concentration of locusts had been measured over more than 1 million hectares of Pavlodar but the area had been treated early with pesticides.

Witnesses on the Kazakh-Russian border said they saw a large swarm of locusts crossing south.

"I have never seen this before, when locusts fly from the north to the south," said Aset Kabzhanov, deputy head of the Irtysh district in the Pavlodar region. "Usually they migrate the other way."

Kazakhstan planted 12.6 million hectares of land to grain in 2000, and 7.2 million hectares have been treated with pesticides.