Locusts are migrant pests, able to fly up 150 kilometres daily and settle in new areas, often crossing countries’ political borders. Every year, they put at risk crops and rangelands while threatening food security and the livelihoods of the rural populations living in the affected areas. Locusts are indeed a constant threat to agricultural production in Tajikistan and in the whole of Central Asia.

Yesterday, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially handed over essential equipment for locust survey and control operations to the State Entity “Locust Control Expedition” (SE-LCE) of the Ministry of Agriculture of Tajikistan (MoA). The support was provided in the context of the FAO project “Improvement of Locust Management in Central Asia (Phase 2)”, funded by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The project aims to strengthen human and operational national capacities to prevent and limit the threats and damages posed by locusts concerning human health and the environment.

The provided equipment includes five water tank lorries and five minibuses, with the necessary spare parts and emergency kits, as well as camping equipment, such as shower cabins, beds and mattresses, amounting to more than USD 488 000.

Such equipment will be used for locust monitoring and control operations in the field. It completes the already received tractors, sprayers, tablets and human health monitoring equipment handed over earlier in 2022.

The handover ceremony was attended by the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Tajikistan – Mr. Qurbon Hakimzoda, H.E. Mr. Toshihiro Aiki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Muneo Takasaka, JICA Chief Representative, Mr. Ibrohim Ahmadov, FAO National Technical Officer on Locust Issues, as well as the head and the staff of SE-LCE.

“FAO’s continuous support in the area of locust management significantly contributed to building national capacities of the government and locust management institutions in Tajikistan and in Central Asia. Today’s handover ceremony is the important part of our successful cooperation with partners in helping Tajikistan to ensure better production and better environment, as the result better livelihood in Tajikistan,”  highlighted Oleg Guchgeldiyev, FAO Representative

In February 2023, in the framework of the same project, four national briefing sessions on locust management were organised in Bokhtar, Kulob, Tursunzoda and Khujand. The training sessions benefited 77 SE-LCE staff involved in control operations and focused on effective locust control and pesticide risk reduction. These sessions were delivered by the SE-LCE specialists, who received special training during the regional sessions organised by FAO in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in October 2022.

The received knowledge, along with the equipment, will contribute to efficient locust monitoring and control, early warning of locust outbreaks and anticipatory action.

The “Project for Improvement of Locust Management (Phase 2)” has been approved in 2020 by the Government of Japan and JICA to the benefit of six Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan. This is a five-year duration project with a total budget of USD 7.5 million and is part of the multi-funded “Programme to improve national and regional locust management in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA)”, which has been implemented by FAO since 2011.