A Plague of Locusts

by Nathan Hamm on 6/24/2005

IRIN reports that farmers in Kashkadarya are have a locust invasion on their hands.

In an effort to stave off the invasion, chemicals were being sprayed from planes and each farm has been provided with a special spraying unit to kill the insects in their fields, though a charge is levied for use of the equipment.

Although the pesticide is provided free, many very poor farmers cannot afford to pay for the use of the spraying machinery or for the use of a plane. Despite the extensive use of insecticides, Mamayusuf conceded that the exercise was largely in vain given the sheer numbers of locusts coming in from neighbouring Turkmenistan.

Now, my first reaction in these kinds of situations is to declare that God is mightily pissed at some form of misbehavior (despite me being thoroughly non-religious), but the problems started in April. So, if there’s any kind of divine anger being unleashed on Uzbekistan, it’s not really for anything specific.

In this case, the problem with these monstrous creatures can fully be blamed on Turkmenistan.

“If these cigar-sized creatures were scaled-up to human size, this journey would be equal to circumnavigating the earth in less than two months. The sources of these swarms are the reed beds along the shores of lakes and river deltas in Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. These are, in effect, the tallest grasses in the world, reaching heights of thirty feet and providing immense quantities of food for the locusts’ journeys,” Jeffrey Lockwood, a locust researcher, explained.

Local experts in Kashkadarya say that the recent invasion is a consequence of wet spring weather and the fact that the Turkmen government is reportedly doing little to eradicate the insects in their breeding sites.

“In Turkmenistan, meadows are not cultivated and they are indifferent to the problem of those parasites there,” Jurayev claimed. “We could destroy them in time if they were on our territory when they are so small.” Salimkuzi Khudaikulov, chairman of the Erkin Erdonayev farm, said that he warned the authorities before the locusts arrived but they failed to respond.

UPDATE: I should probably note that the photo is from Africa.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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