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New Locust Clouds Appear in Argentina and Country Declares State of Agricultural Emergency

The Argentine Ministry of Agriculture recently decreed a state of agricultural emergency after receiving an alert for a new locust cloud (and snowstorm).  Currently, there are four monitored regions: Formosa, Chaco, Salta and Entre Ríos provinces. By Twitter, the National Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasa, acronym in Spanish) posted a notice on Sunday:

According to the Argentine government, assistance has began for livestock producers, in addition to farmers who produce onion, pumpkin, corn, potatoes, quinoa, sorghum, and vegetables. Valor Econômico writer Fernanda Pressinott reported that producers of wine, dried fruits, vines and other crops will also receive benefits for a period of one year from the signing of the decree last Friday.

Estadão news said that the government was informed about a new locust cloud by a farmer at Salta city, Province of Salta. There is still no information about the size of this new cloud.

The Canal Rural website noted that in northern Argentina there is an alert for the provinces of Chaco and in the northwest about the probable movement of the two clouds that are in the province of Formosa.

“Warm weather and strong winds should favor the movements of the two clouds in Formosa, with travel to Chaco and Salta, while another group of insects should approach the border with Bolivia and Paraguay,” the Senasa report said.

Zero Hora writer Iarema Soares reported that Argentine agents indicated that a cloud that was in the province of Chaco has split into two, thus joining the groups of insects from Formosa, Salta and Entre Rios.

The locust cloud that has been in Argentina since May was practically extinct last week, according to Senasa Argentina. Globo Rural reported that the most optimistic panorama about the risk of insect displacement was given after a new spraying in a forest area in the province of Entre Rios, 10 kilometers from the border with Uruguay and about 90 kilometers from the border with Brazil.

Risk of Locust Cloud Going to Brazil

The Zero Hora newspaper reported that the high temperatures recorded in the last few days favored the movement of the locust clouds over Argentina.  In an interview with with Zero Hora regarding the Chaco cloud, Juliano Ritter, an agricultural officer in Rio Grande do Sul, stated:

“It must remain at this rate of flight because there is a forecast of heat for the whole week in Argentina. At first, the wind will tend to take it away from Brazil, but we have no way of predicting whether it will really happen.”

Canal Rural writer Daniel Popov also reported that the trend for now is that the clouds do not go to Brazil. That is because the forecast until next week is that the wind in the north of Argentina will continue blowing west.

Meanwhile the insects remaining in the cloud on the Argentina Uruguay border no longer pose a risk to the country. In the State of Rio Grande do Sul, 70 airplanes remain available in the border areas in case there is a need to combat any clouds.

The alert state began in June, when the cloud originated about a week earlier in Entre Rios and circulated for about a month in the province of Corrientes, in the area of ​​the Argentine border with Brazil. That situation motivated the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture to decree a phytosanitary emergency for a period of one year, and establish an emergency protocol for insect control.

Joana Colussi is a journalist and visiting researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Previously, she has reported on various agribusiness and economics topics for prominent Brazilian media publications, such as Grupo Globo affiliates. Joana holds a Master’s degree in Agribusiness, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Management at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS-Brazil).

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