News 858 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Grasshopper plague threatens Russia's feed grain supply

An invasion of grasshoppers this year in the southern regions of Russia have resulted in Rostov, Astrakhan and Volgograd regions declaring a state of emergency.

It is estimated that in some regions the grasshopper plague has already reached 1.5 thousand insects per square meter. A record number, almost double that of 2011.

Farmers fear that the belated measures taken by the veterinary services, will lead to a loss of up to 20% of the crops in the southern regions. This, in turn, may lead to a shortage at the local feed markets.

"It has been reported that the mass reproduction and distribution of the Italian locust, a very dangerous type of locust pest, in the recent weeks has significantly increased the threat of further spread of locusts to neighboring regions," a souce in the Ministry for Emergencies said.

At the same time, farmers have noted that because of the inaction of the authorities the grasshoppers destroy a huge number of harvests every year, resulting in annual grain loses of between 3% and 10% (from 2 to 7 million tonnes) in the southern regions of Russia This year, some experts believe the losses could be catastrophic.

"In 2010 I planted 100 hectares of grain - the locusts ate them all. In 2011 I planted 200 hectares, and again the pests ate it all. This year I’ve planted 1000 hectares – let them choke on it." – one local farmer commented.

Astrakhan Region has already allocated an unprecedented 150 million rubles (US$5 mln) to fight the pests. Similar measures have been taken in other southern regions of Russian. Emergency services have sprayed chemicals on the fields, but such a measure could lead to contamination of the grain, which would be dangerous to the health of both people and animals.

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