Argentina and Brazil are monitoring the movement of a 15-square-kilometer locust swarm in Argentina’s northeast that’s crossing South America.
The insects, which entered Argentina from Paraguay, are heading toward Uruguay. While they are not expected to affect Brazil’s crops, the nation’s agriculture ministry on Thursday declared a state of emergency in two southern states in order to allow officials to take preventive measures.
Biblical locust invades Brazil, Argentina and heads to Uruguay in South America in June 2020. Picture: DW
Argentine food safety body SENASA said the swarm, which initially entered Argentina from Paraguay in late May, contained about 40 million insects. It is in the province of Corrientes, near borders with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Argentina and Brazil are among the world’s largest soy and corn exporters.
“We are following the movement of the plague,” Héctor Medina, a coordinator at SENASA, told Reuters on Thursday.
Due to the arrival of a cold weather front from the south, the movement of the locusts would be limited in the coming days, he added.
The low temperatures “will prevent them from moving and reproducing. The lethargy makes them stay still,” Medina said. Winds could eventually push the cloud of locusts into a neighboring country, he added.
NUVEM DE GAFANHOTOS FAZ SUL DO BRASIL DECRETAR ESTADO DE EMERGÊNCIA
O Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento declarou estado de emergência fitossanitária no Rio Grande do Sul e em Santa Catarina devido ao enxame de gafanhoto que pode chegar ao país pic.twitter.com/1tFKCzhUr9
— UOL Notícias (@UOLNoticias) June 26, 2020
Phytosanitary emergency in Brazil
Brazil’s agriculture ministry is also monitoring the swarm and has asked farmers in the south of the country to be on alert, although it has concluded that the locust cloud is unlikely to move into Brazilian territory for now.
Nevertheless, Farming Minister Tereza Cristina Dias, declared on Thursday a “phytosanitary emergency” in the states of Río Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina due to the swarm.
Por la invasión de miles de langostas en el litoral argentino que se acerca a Uruguay y preocupa a los productores rurales.
Cuantas plagas decía la biblia? pic.twitter.com/nLCVlTrQCY
— ¿Por qué es tendencia? URUGUAY (@porqtendenciauy) June 24, 2020
In Argentina, both SENASA and the Buenos Aires grain exchange said they were less worried by the locust swarm than issues of dry weather impacting crops.
“For now (the swarm) is not a problem, we are more concerned about the humidity issue for wheat planting than locusts,” said Esteban Copati, head of agricultural estimates at the exchange, who added the swarm was moving over a marginal farming areas.
The plague have raised concerns in Brazil
A representative from the Aprosoja growers association in Rio Grande do Sul said they feared the locusts would enter the state where corn is still being harvested and wheat being grown.
Acabo ver una noticia, que hay en Suramérica una nube de langostas subiendo desde Argentina hasta Brasil, que ya se declaró emergencia en los estados de Río Grande do Sul y Santa Catarina, fronterizos con Argentina y Uruguay.
En fin el 2020. pic.twitter.com/5LDL38enep
— Primo ECosta (@PrimoECosta) June 26, 2020
Eugenio Hack of the Copercampos cooperative in Santa Catarina told Reuters that if the locusts were to move to the state, producers would have to be trained to use the appropriate chemicals, which are different from those normally used.
“My grandfather dealt with locusts many years ago. Farmers used to dig ditches in the ground, cover insects with soil, and then set them on fire,” Hack said.