Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry declared a crop emergency on Thursday as the country braces for a plague of locusts of biblical proportions. The move will help authorities to implement steps to suppress the invasion of voracious insects and take other emergency measures should the locusts reach the fertile southern states Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. However, the ministry noted that such a scenario is unlikely.
The swarm of locusts, which consists of 40 million insects, first hit Paraguay and then travelled to Argentina and is now 100 kilometres from Brazil’s border. Argentina and Brazil are some of the largest producers of corn and soy. Officials in Buenos Aires say so far the crop-munching insects have not caused as much damage as they did in Pakistan and India (the latter saw 600,000 hectares of the crops destroyed). Officials say low temperatures prevent insects from moving and reproducing.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that if locusts continue to destroy crops in this way they will pose a threat to the livelihoods of 10 percent of the world’s population or 780 million people. The humanitarian catastrophe may have already begun as FAO warned that a second-generation of immature swarms has started forming in Kenya.