Locust invasion

Published: Sunday 31 July 2005

A severe locust invasion has destroyed large tracts of cotton and grain crops in Uzbekistan's Kashkadarya province. All attempts by farmers and Uzbek authorities to contain the crisis have proved futile.

Insecticides are being sprayed on farmlands from planes and farms are provided with the facility to use a special spraying unit, both for a fee. But while the pesticide is given free, poor farmers can't pay for the spray machine or the plane. Also, the use of highly-toxic chemicals has triggered health concerns. "The instruction for these chemicals says that people need to protect themselves with respirators, rubber gloves and boots. But we don't have them," rues a farmer. Contamination of water sources is also feared.

The effort is also failing because swarms of locusts keep pouring in from Turkmenistan and the Turkmen government is allegedly not doing enough to kill the insects in their breeding stage.

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