KUNMING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Since more countries in Asia are experiencing plagues of desert locusts, China's northwestern and southwestern border regions have strengthened measures to prevent and control the crop-damaging pests.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted that the desert locust plague, which originated in Africa, may last until June, with swarms growing to 500 times the current level.
So far, the desert locusts have spread from East Africa to India and Pakistan, while experts believed that the pests may enter Tibet from Pakistan and India, travel to southwest China's Yunnan Province from Myanmar or invade northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from Kazakhstan.
China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration has recently urged local authorities to step up monitoring, issue early warnings and alerts promptly, strengthen staff training and devise and improve emergency response plans to combat the possible spread of locusts.
The provincial forestry and grassland bureau of Yunnan said a monitoring network consisting of about 120 monitoring sites would be set up across the border areas in the province to prevent the invasion of desert locusts and its spread to other domestic regions.
The provincial agriculture and rural affairs department also organized relevant departments to work out an emergency prevention and control plan of the desert locusts and introduce techniques of pest control.
Yunnan's Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture of Dehong borders Myanmar. The local plant protection workers have been mobilized to survey crop fields. So far, more than 166 hectares of cropland have been checked, and no desert locusts were found in the prefecture.
Statistics showed that between 2015 and 2019, pests annually affected more than 2 million hectares of grassland, and the area of grassland where pests were prevented or controlled was over 1 million hectares, according to the locust and rat control headquarters of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang experts are forecasting a high possibility of pest infestation in the grassland this year, which could be caused by several kinds of locusts.
Although there is a low-risk of large-scale pest occurrence in southern Xinjiang, the vast region borders eight countries and the migratory locusts may fly into the region, according to the experts.
Meanwhile, Xinjiang has intensified monitoring and preventive efforts, mobilized personnel and prepared facilities, planes and pesticides to cope with the risk.
"Tibet has faced increasing risks of locust plagues in recent years due to the impact of global warming. Therefore, we should never let down our guard and take precautions," said Nyima Zhaxi, dean of Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Sciences.
The city of Xigaze, neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and India, has set up an emergency working group and intensified surveillance and patrols in mountain passes and valleys and is preparing anti-locust materials including pesticides.
"The grassland in Xigaze is of poor quality and grows low grass. Once desert locusts move into China on a large scale, it may have a great impact on animal husbandry," said Lhaba Toinzhub, an official of a local forestry department.
The agricultural department of Ngari Prefecture said the spring farming in Ngari will start from the end of April and last until mid-May, and relevant departments have kept a close eye on the trend of the overseas locust plagues.