Iran’s Pest Control Scheme Calls for Buying Live Locusts from Iranian Villagers 

June 3, 2019 – Residents of rural areas in the Persian Gulf can now capture and sell desert locusts, also known as short-horned grasshoppers, to provincial authorities, Mehr News Agency reported on June 1, citing Azizollah Kenari, the governor of Bandar Abbas County, in the southern province of Hormozgan.

“The governor-general of Hormozgan and the provincial office for Agricultural Jihad have approved a plan that allows a person in rural regions to capture and sell live locusts for $1.90 per kilogram to the chief administrative officer of the village where he or she lives,” Mr. Azizollah said at a meeting of the disaster management department of Hormozgan Municipality on June 1. “The municipal districts will then buy the live locusts for $2.1 per kilogram from the administration office in each village and collect them at the end of every business day.”

Azizollah added: “Local councils manage and control the locust population. They must, therefore, urge people to take part in the scheme. The administration office of each village must provide all relevant information to the residents.”

Yet Reza Mir, the spokesman for the Plant Protection Organization, described the plan as “wrong and illogical,” according to a May 2 report by the state-controlled Tasnim news agency.

“We oppose the governor’s proposal and cannot support it under any circumstance. The Plant Protection Organization’s job is to spray fields and crops with pesticides,” Mr. Mir explained. “People may capture and sell locusts that are covered with dangerous chemicals which could pose a serious health risk. So, our office does not think that is a good plan,” Mir said.

He also raised the issue with the Hormozgan office for Agriculture Jihad, which replied that while it did not support the scheme, the governor of Bandar Abbas County and his office were responsible for the project.

Mir, however, reversed his position a day later, telling the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that the invading locusts were a viable source of protein and made good livestock feed.

“The Plant Protection Organization will not oppose the idea. We had previously expressed our willingness to work with companies that have the technology and resources to capture and collect live locusts.” Mir noted. “The scheme could work, depending on the scale and scope of the project. Live locusts have most likely not been affected by pesticides, which makes them a good and safe feed for cattle and livestock.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]