The locust attack on the Negev is renewed: Billions of grasshoppers were spotted on Monday in various locations across the south of Israel. Ramat Negev Regional Council contends there is no control over the grasshoppers and that preventive spraying has failed.
Head of Ramat Negev Regional Council Shmulik Rifman urgently addressed the agriculture minister and prime minister, requesting "Impose this mission on the army. It is an ecological and agricultural disaster."
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Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir conducted an assessment of the situation in the Negev. A meeting was held together with the Agriculture Ministry director-general, ministry professionals and farmers' representatives, in which was agreed to increase the field monitoring and tighten the coordination between those involved in eradicating the locusts, in order to prevent further farmland expansion.
Locusts first arrived in Israel in the beginning of March, when hundreds of thousands of acres were sprayed, yet these actions did not prevent the crickets from mating. The eggs that were laid began hatching two weeks ago, and locusts are now spreading all over the south of Israel.
Farmers in the Western Negev are now worried about the fate of their crops. Swarms of locusts hatched and raised in the area threaten their livelihood. Within one week the crickets should start flying in the area of green farmland and destroy the vast agricultural crops in the region, mainly potatoes and carrots.
Agriculture Ministry started monitoring and spraying operations as swarms spread in an area of 1.2 million acres in the western Negev. Eshkol Regional Council Head Haim Yalin said that "there is cooperation between the Agriculture Ministry, IDF Southern Command, the farmers and the council, in order to prevent the ecological and economic damage."
According to him, there could be severe implications to the Israeli vegetable market and the farmers themselves. An emergency meeting will be held on Tuesday with all the relevant professional officials in order to coordinate further preventive actions.
Yalin said, "We learn from the Agriculture Ministry that such event has not been documented since 1915. We learn as we go, as well as experts in Israel and around the world."
The Agriculture minister said, "As we have successfully dealt with the first swarms of locusts, the Agriculture Ministry continues to monitor and provide professional and efficient response to eradicate the phenomenon and prevent further locusts expansion towards farmland areas."