Argentina says hit by second locust swarm, farmers on alert

FILE PHOTO: A locust is seen on a plant, in Gran Guardia, Formosa, Argentina June 1, 2020. SENASA/Handout via REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Grains powerhouse Argentina is getting hit by a second swarm of locusts arriving from neighboring Paraguay, Argentina’s Senasa agricultural health inspection agency said on Tuesday, putting farmers on notice about possible crop damage.

The new swarm is concentrated in the province of Formosa in north-east Argentina, on the Paraguay border. The area is not part of Argentina’s main Pampas grains belt, but it could hurt crops if the low temperatures of the Southern Hemisphere winter do not keep the swarm from spreading too far southward.

“This second wave is in a cattle ranching area where there are not many crops,” Hector Medina, a coordinator at Senasa, told Reuters.

The earlier swarm, which entered Argentina from Paraguay in May, has centered in Entre Rios province, closer to Argentina’s main grains belt, but has not done any significant crop damage.

“The swarm detected in Formosa advanced in a southern direction,” Senasa said in a statement. “The wind allowed it to move quickly and is expected to approach Rio Bermejo today. So the alert is extended to Chaco province.”

Argentine agricultural health officials are in touch with their Paraguayan and Brazilian counterparts to monitor the situation, Senasa said.

“If you see locusts, tell Senasa. The more in touch we are, the better prepared we will be,” the statement said.

A month ago Argentina and Brazil said they were monitoring the movement of what was then a 15-square-kilometer locust swarm. The three countries are among the world’s biggest soybean exporters.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Dan Grebler