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FAO Warns of Severe Locust Outbreak Across 8 Provinces in Afghanistan

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has raised an alarm about a large-scale outbreak of Moroccan locusts in eight provinces in Afghanistan's wheat-growing north and northeast regions, according to Khaama Press.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO Warns of Severe Locust Outbreak Across 8 Provinces in Afghanistan (Photo Source: BBC)
FAO Warns of Severe Locust Outbreak Across 8 Provinces in Afghanistan (Photo Source: BBC)

The affected provinces include Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Kunduz, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul, and Takhar, and locust sightings have also been reported in the Afghan provinces of Herat and Ghor.

This epidemic has occurred amidst a major humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan due to the Taliban's strict dictatorship. According to an analysis, the country is likely to experience the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe in 2023, and the extensive Moroccan locust outbreak in the affected districts will worsen the situation.

The Moroccan locust is known for being one of the world's most destructive plant pests, consuming around 150 plant species, including tree crops, pastures, and 50 food crops that are grown in Afghanistan. The FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Richard Trenchard, the current situation posed an enormous threat to farmers, communities, and the entire country, with crop losses from the outbreak, expected to range between 700,000 and 1.2 million tonnes of wheat, resulting in economic loss.

Additionally, Trenchard mentioned that the last two major outbreaks, occurring 20 and 40 years ago, had cost Afghanistan 8% and 25% of its total annual wheat production, respectively. Although this year's harvest estimates were the highest in three years, the outbreak could undo recent accomplishments and substantially increase food insecurity later this year and into next, as per Trenchard.

Afghanistan is already dealing with a significant humanitarian catastrophe, with the country now having the highest number of people in emergency food insecurity globally, according to UN assessments. The Ukraine crisis has also contributed to the rise in food prices, making it difficult for many Afghans to afford basic necessities. Additionally, Afghan children and women have been disproportionately affected by the crimes committed in the country since the Taliban took control.

Since the Taliban reclaimed control in August 2021, foreign governments have slashed development funds and imposed sanctions, primarily due to the Taliban's restrictions on women. Women have been banned from working in education, with local and foreign organizations, in gyms, or in public settings.

The current situation in Afghanistan is a significant concern, and it is crucial to address the humanitarian crisis and ensure that assistance reaches the most vulnerable individuals in the affected areas. The international community must step forward to provide support to Afghanistan to mitigate the impact of the locust epidemic and address the severe food insecurity and other issues affecting the country.

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