Locusts add to Gansu’s drought plight

Infestations of locusts have increased in both number and severity this summer amid the continuing drought in much of north-west China’s Gansu Province, the Lanzhou Morning Post reported. Swarms of the insects now affect about 800,000 hectares of grassland each year, and funds to tackle the problem remain in short supply. 

The yearly infestations have a devastating effect on the fragile ecology of the region’s grasslands. Slower vegetation growth and a reduction in total coverage have led to an average drop of about 40 kilogrammes per hectare in edible yields for livestock.

According to a local official, Han Tianhu, the problem has been exacerbated by a lack of adequate funding. “Because we aren’t able to fully eradicate the previous year’s infestation,” Han said, “there are still a lot of locusts left — which means the chances of an even larger outbreak the following year are much higher.”

Gansu has been beset by a series of droughts over the past decade, with some counties affected in nine of the last 10 years. According to statistics released earlier this week, the current drought has left 370,000 people across the province struggling to find clean drinking water, with 1.1 million hectares of land damaged by the lack of water.

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