According to Iran media, Iran may deploy its military to help combat a locust invasion in the south of the country as swarms of insects threaten to destroy crops worth billions of dollars.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has already hit hard in Iran, with more than 116,635 confirmed cases, and 6,902 deaths. A decrease in oil export also leads Iran to economic turmoil. Iran is now faced with this locust invasion that could lead to a disastrous impact on the country as crops worth more than $7 billion are at risk.
On May 15, Mohammad Reza Mir, a spokesman for the ministry's Plant Protection Organization (PPO), said the desert locusts had attacked more than 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of orchards and farmland in seven of Iran's 31 provinces, the semiofficial news agency ILNA reported.
According to Mir, the affected areas, stretching from eastern Iran on the border with Pakistan to the southwestern border with Iraq, were likely to soon increase to 1 million hectares.
Mir also said that the military has offered to help combat the desert locusts for a second year.
"The military have promised to help fight the desert locusts, including by providing all-terrain vehicles for use in areas which are hard to access," Mir told ILNA. "Last year the military provided personnel and vehicles, and that was a big help."
Mir said anti-locust operations had so far prevented any damages to the crops.
The head of PPO's organization, Mohammad Reza Dargahi, said last month that locust swarms threatened 1,250 trillion rials ($7.4 billion) worth of agricultural products across six provinces in southern Iran, according to the daily Financial Tribune.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization predicts agricultural losses to neighboring Pakistan from locusts could be as high as $2.2 billion for winter crops alone.
The organization also mentioned that the locust swarms have already damaged crops in East Africa and Horn of Africa in recent weeks. Also, swarms are in a direction to Arabian Peninsula and are threatening the Pakistan and India border.