14 December 2021, Dushanbe – As part of an ongoing effort to fight the locust infestations in Tajikistan, and in preparation for the next 2022 anti-locust campaign, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) delivered eight MTZ – 82.1 tractors to the State Enterprise “Locust Control Expedition” of the Ministry of Agriculture. The new vehicles should strengthen operational capacities for locust control and confront the spread of locusts.

This initiative is part of a regional project for improved locust management, which also aims to enhance food security and livelihoods of rural populations in Central Asia by preventing and limiting the threats posed by locusts and damage to crops and rangelands in the respect of human health and the environment.

The project involves all Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan with financial support from Japanese government and Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to increase national capacities and develop regional cooperation.

Locust is a terrifying enemy for farmers, threatening livelihoods of rural population. They multiply rapidly and travel up to 30 kilometers a day with the capacity to destroy crops and pastureland on the way.

The State Enterprise “Locust Control Expedition”, which is responsible for locust management in the country, reported outbreaks in southern Khatlon region in 2020–2021. According to this report, Vakhsh valley was affected by large locust swarms, apparently originated from the nearby mountains. The presence of locusts was also reported in other places of Khatlon province, including Dusti, Shahritus, Jilikul, Danghara, Farkhor, Baljuvon, and Khovaling.

“FAO will continue supporting Tajikistan’s locust control strategy to reduce the infested areas,” said Oleg Guchgeldiyev, FAO Representative in Tajikistan. “The threat to agriculture and food security is tremendous and the challenge to bring the locusts under control is very urgent. To this end, improving locust management capacity is one of the main goal of the FAO locust programme in Central Asia,” added Guchgeldiyev. Indeed, the consequences of undertreating would be disastrous and may cause food insecurity and crisis not only in Tajikistan, but also in the entire Central Asian region.

The project also plans to deliver ULV and EC sprayers, water tank lorry, minibuses, shower units, camping equipment and human health monitoring equipment for locust specialists of the State Enterprise “Locust Control Expedition” to better control locust infestations in Tajikistan.

Currently, FAO supports and implements two projects to enhance the technical and human resource capacity of the government and farmers to monitor the locust situation and to react on locust outbreaks in Tajikistan; the second one is funded by the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme. The main beneficiary of both projects is the Locust Control Expedition under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Tajikistan.