Neşe İdil / Duvar English

Turkey’s Chamber of Agricultural Engineers has warned that Turkey may face a desert locust outbreak, as swarms of the insect have been devouring crops in the country’s neighboring Iran and Iraq.

“Desert locusts are a big risk for Turkey. They destroy crop fields completely and reproduce rapidly,” Chamber head Özden Güngör told Duvar English on March 12, while urging the Agriculture Ministry to act upon the issue.

“Desert locust swarms consist of billions of insects that can cover a distance of up to 170 kilometers in one day,” he added.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently warned against a humanitarian disaster, since swarms of desert locusts threaten food supplies in a number of countries.

The unusual outbreak is believed to be linked to climate change.

In Turkey, social media users shared thousands of tweets with the hashtag “#çekirgeistilası,” which translates as “locust invasion.”

When asked whether the outbreak threatens Turkey, Güngör said that it’s possible for the outbreak to reach the country since it has already reached Iraq and Iran.

“A desert locust outbreak entails the emergence of severe problems in Turkey since agricultural production is already limited. Farmers are already in a dire situation. The number of farmers on record decreased to 2.1 million from 2.7 million. The number of cultivable agriculture lands and production have also decreased,” Güngör said.

“If a desert locust invasion takes place, food prices will increase,” he noted.

Saying that desert locust swarms can consume food enough for up to 40,000 people in a day, Güngör noted that Turkish authorities need to take action.

“We need to know what the ministry has to say about a possible outbreak. They need to suggest precautions,” he said.

Güngör also said that authorities need to share information on desert locusts, just like they do for the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is a greater danger than coronavirus. They destroy food sources completely,” he added.

The chamber head said that the only solution to get rid of the outbreak is to apply proper insecticides.