June 19, 2012
Grasshoppers pose scare on Russian feed grain stocks
The invasion of grasshoppers in Russia's southern regions, which has threatened the stocks of feed grain, has prompted Rostov, Astrakhan and Volgograd regions to announce 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 neighbouring regions," a source 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 2-7 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 RUB150 million (US$5 million) 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.