Ministry of Agriculture assesses desert locust control operations

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The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) assessed the desert locust control operations along with its partners in Massawa city on April 4, 2019. During the assessment meeting, Mr. Tesfit Ghebrezgabhier, head of crop production division in the Northern Red Sea (NRS) region, presented a detailed report that manifested the endeavors of the government and farmers of Eritrea.

In the report he presented, Mr. Tesfit said that there were surveillance and control operations in all stations, namely Karura, Girat, Gulbub, Sheeb, Emberemi and Foro. According to his report, the control operations were conducted in two phases from the first week of December, 2018 until the end of March, 2019.

The report revealed that a total of 36,192 hectares of desert locust-infested land was treated with proper dosage of pesticides. “To control and manage such a huge infestation with limited human resource -- only nineteen experts, eight scouts, and ten drivers -- is a great success,” noted Mr. Tesfit. “Also the full cooperation and coordination of all relevant government bodies and farmers were indispensable.” Mr. Tesfit added that adequate supply of effective pesticides and early surveillance were a major success of the campaign.

Finally, Mr. Tesfit said that shortage of spraying vehicles, under-equipped control stations, shortage of training on health and safety were some of the major limitations of the campaign against desert locust. And he urged concerned bodies to address these limitations.

During the assessment meeting, a report on the awareness-raising conducted and endeavors made to disprove some misleading news about desert locust status in Eritrea was also presented by the Information, communication and documentation unit of Agricultural Extension Department of the Ministry.

Moreover, a brief report on environmental, health and safety assessment on desert locust control area was presented by Mr. Kaleab Hale, Agro-chemicals regulatory unit head at the Regulatory Services Department of the Ministry. B/ General Tecle Libsu, Northern Red Sea Governor, commended the diligence of the control operations’ staff and the coordination of the Ministry of Agriculture in the day-to-day activities of the campaign. He said, “We were a bit doubtful as to whether we could manage to control the continuous outbreaks that emerged here and there with the limited resources we had. However, the previous experience of the Ministry and experts as well as their incredible hard work in the deserts proved to us everything was possible.”

Finally, B/ General Tecle Libsu expressed his administration’s readiness to reinforce desert locust control operations.

Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Eritrea’s Minister of Agriculture, in his closing remarks, said, “After all, it is the human factor more than anything else which makes a big difference. You, the control and surveillance teams, proved that it is, indeed, the case. The incredible locust upsurge is now history.”

Furthermore, the minister thanked all relevant bodies and farmers for their contributions in the success of the campaign. Finally, he said, “Desert locust will always be there with us; and we are accustomed to tackling it with the limited resources we have. However, the Ministry, along with its development partners, will try to fill the gaps from time to time.”

During the assessment meeting, the Ministry’s desert locust management team, NRS senior officials, chairperson of NRS regional assembly, sub-zoba administrators and control operations staff participated.

The Executive secretary of FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC), Dr. Mamoon Alalawi, gave an eye-witness account on Eritrea’s commitment to controlling desert locust at a press conference arranged by the Ministry to representatives of local and international media on March 15, 2019.

Dr. Mamoon gave the note after he made a three-day visit, from 12 to 14 March, 2019, covering vast areas of Northern Red sea that were subjected to massive desert locust infestations from December to mid-March 2019. “Those who managed the desert locust infestation in more than 32,000 hectares of land with very limited resources are really heroes,” he underscored.

“Eritrea continuously not only saves its crops from desert locust threat but also eliminates these harmful pests from affecting other countries,” he further stressed. “All countries which are directly or indirectly affected by desert locust need to reinforce their cooperation to put these pests’ effect to tolerable thresholds.”

Finally, he outlined the major limitations he observed in Eritrea that include shortage of spraying vehicles and adequate facilities in the controlling stations. He said CRC, along with its funding partners, will do its best to alleviate these problems. In his visit, Dr. Mamoon discussed many relevant issues with Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Eritrea’s Minister of Agriculture, other senior Ministry officials, Northern Red Sea experts and control operation site managers.

Dr. Mamoon gave more than ten AU 8000 motorized backpack pesticide sprayers to the Minister of Agriculture in the name of CRC. CRC is a big regional organization composed of 16 member countries, including Eritrea.