Argentina's farmers plagued by locusts

BUENOS AIRES • Farmers and fumigators in Argentina are running out of time as they scramble to control the country's worst plague of locusts in more than half a century, officials warned on Monday.

The provincial authorities and Senasa, the government's agricultural inspection agency, have intensified their efforts to exterminate swarms of the insects in the dry forests of northern Argentina.

But their attempts might not be enough to prevent the locusts from developing into a flying throng in the coming days - when they will then threaten to devour crops like sunflowers and cotton, and grasslands for cattle grazing.

Small pockets of locusts, which first appeared last June at the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, have spread across an area of northern Argentina about 6,453 sq km amid comfortable breeding conditions.

"We don't know exactly where we're at," said Mr Juan Pablo Karnatz, a representative of a farmers' union, who has been involved in coordinating a response to the plague.

Small pockets of locusts first appeared last June and have spread across an area of northern Argentina spanning about 6,452 sq km amid comfortable breeding conditions.
Small pockets of locusts first appeared last June and have spread across an area of northern Argentina spanning about 6,452 sq km amid comfortable breeding conditions. PHOTO: SWIDBERT OTT

"We may have contained some pockets, but it's not a definitive victory," he warned. "If they fly, it could be disastrous."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'Argentina's farmers plagued by locusts'. Print Edition | Subscribe