Disaster declared due to extreme drought in Aroostook County, Maine, USA #Drought #AroostookCounty #Maine #USA
The federal government has declared Aroostook County a “drought disaster” area as the region faces a prolonged dry spell.
This summer was one of the driest on record for The County — which has been placed under a severe drought status known as D2 — brought on by low soil moisture, lack of rainfall, drying vegetation and low stream flows.
The designation is given to areas experiencing severe droughts for eight consecutive weeks or a higher level drought intensity value for any period of time. Water levels in Aroostook and Penobscot rivers reached an all-time low earlier this year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The only other drought in Maine as severe as this was nearly 20 years ago — from 2001 to 2002.
“We have over 150 years of records at [the Penobscot water monitoring] location,” Nick Stasulis, the geological survey’s data section chief, told The Houlton Pioneer Times earlier this month. “So certainly that is a significant data set when you’re looking at the historical perspective.”
Due to the severe drought conditions, farmers in Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties are eligible for emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
Farmers have eight months from the date of a disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans from the USDA. The Farm Service Agency considers the extent of production losses on the farm and the operator’s security and repayment ability in reviewing emergency loan applications.
These emergency loans can be used to restore or replace “essential property,” pay off production costs accrued during the disaster year, cover family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debts, the agency said.
Other services such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program are also available to farmers in counties in a severe drought.
Farmers in need of hay for their livestock can use the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Hay Directory, too.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry also encourages farmers to plan for future droughts by upgrading their water supplies and improving soil. Farmers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or local Natural Resources Conservation Service for help with soil health practices.
Courtesy of bangordailynews.com
Storm ‘Noul’ causes flash floods, strong winds and landslides in Thailand #Storm #Floods #Landslides #Thailand
People in 27 provinces have been affected by flash floods, strong wind and landslides caused by Storm Noul between Friday and Sunday.
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported on Monday its assessment on the impacts of Noul in 27 provinces, mostly in the North and Northeast.
Flashfloods and landslides damaged infrastructures, farms, villages and other property. Nearly 2,000 households have been severely affected. One storm-related fatality and two injuries have been reported.
The storm has also brought flash floods and high tides in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea, according to the Meteorological Department.
Courtesy of pattayamail.com
The African migratory red locusts continue to destroy grazing areas and crops extensively in the Zambezi region and have now reportedly started to spread further to other areas.
The locusts were spotted early this month in the flood-prone areas of Kabbe North and South as well as Katima Rural.
However, Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu yesterday said more locusts are being reported in different areas and the situation is getting out of control.
He said while the matter has been reported to the agriculture ministry, they are still waiting for more manpower to contain the further spread of the outbreak.
“The situation is still the same. More locust swarms are being reported in different constituencies of Kabbe North and South, as well as Katima Rural. We are waiting for additional manpower,” Sampofu added.
The governor said although the ministry is busy spraying in some areas, they lack manpower and protective clothing.
He noted there is just one spraying team on the ground and it’s difficult to cover the three affected constituencies.
In August, another wave of African migratory red locusts outbreak was reported in the region and the agriculture ministry deployed a team of extension officials to spray the area.
The locusts’ outbreak in northeast Zambezi region was detected in August in the flood plains at Lusese, Nakabolelwa, Ibbu and the surrounding areas.
Courtesy of neweralive.na
Locust Swarms Ravage Crops In Kenya Again As Country Stares At A Food Crisis #LocustSwarms #Kenya #Africa
Kenya has been hit by a second wave of locusts after billions of these tiny insects had already swarmed the country’s fields earlier this year. In the Turkana county, swarms of locusts have caused large-scale damage to standing crops, leading farmers to a state of despair over their near future. This locust invasion is being called by experts as the worst in 70 years. With 20% of standing crop damaged, the region is staring at a food crisis for humans as well as livestock.
The newest locust attack in Kenya will also lead to a dairy crisis since there may not be enough crop residue to feed the livestock. The region has already had a series of droughts since 2016 and the latest locust attack has prompted govt to carry massive aerial and ground operations to control extent of the damage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is aiding the government’s efforts in trying to restrict the damage and ensure that the affected communities get back on their feet.
Courtesy of zee5.com
Locust swarms threaten Middle East, India, Africa amid COVID-19 outbreak #LocustSwarms #MiddleEast #India #Africa
Samburu men attempt to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Kenya, 2020 (photo credit: NJERI MWANGI/REUTERS)
Nations from east Africa to India are facing large swarms of desert locusts and could face an even worse second wave after an exceptional rainy season created favorable conditions for locusts to breed.
Earlier this year, a wave of locusts swept East Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and has since spread to Iran, Iraq Pakistan and India. While the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that about 720,000 tons of cereal had been saved from the swarms in 10 countries, the threat still isn’t over.
“Our gains have been significant; but the battle is long and is not yet over”, said FAO chief Qu Dongyu on Monday. “More people are at risk of losing their livelihoods and worsening food security in the coming months.”
A map by the FAO shows that swarms are expected to spread into West Africa and throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the coming months, with new locust swarms expected to form in June.
While no swarms are currently expected to impact Israel, Jordan is considered “threatened,” according to a forecast map by the FAO. In February, Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture announced an “utmost state of emergency” as swarms descended on Saudi Arabia via Yemen. The Ministry also announced that it was closely monitoring regular reports issued by the Locust Forecast Center, situated within the Food and Agriculture Organization. Syria, which also borders Israel, was reportedly preparing for an outbreak as well.
Former Agriculture Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned at the time that while there was only a low chance that the locusts will come to Israel, the forecast could change and preparations should be made in advance, according to Channel 12 news. An infestation in 2013 caused hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage to Israel’s agriculture industry.
Iran may use its military for a second year to help fight locusts which have invaded the south of the country, an Agricultural Ministry official was quoted as saying on Friday, as the swarms threaten to destroy crops worth more than $7 billion. Up to 1 million hectares of land throughout the country may soon be affected by the swarms.
The infestation originated on the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia being impacted by the swarms as well. In June, Yemen saw an outbreak of desert locusts for the first time in three years. Yemenis took advantage of the infestation as an alternative food source.
A one sq. km. swarm of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people, according to the FAO. UN Food & Agriculture Organization locust forecasting expert Keith Cressman explained that a locust swarm that enters a field in the morning can eat the entire field by midday. The insects can travel up to 93 miles a day.
One swarm in Kenya was three times the size of New York City, according to CNN. The number of locusts could grow 400 times by June if not treated. While desert locusts are usually only found in about 30 countries in Africa, the Near East and southwest Asia, they can spread into up to 60 countries over 29 million square kilometres (about 11.1 million square miles) during plagues, according to ReliefWeb.
All of this comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the world’s economy and food availability for many people.
World Food Program executive director David Beasley warned in April that the world is facing a “hunger pandemic” due to the locust swarms, regional conflict and the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons. 821 million people go to bed hungry every night and another 135 million face crisis levels of hunger or worse, according to Beasley. The WFP found that the coronavirus pandemic has added an additional 130 million people who could be “pushed to the brink of starvation” by the end of this year.
Beasley added that, while there are no famines currently occurring, nations needed to prepare in order to prevent “multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”
In related news in Lebanon, residents “bugged out” over the weekend as swarms of beetles coated the country. “There’s a wave of insects in Lebanon rn [right now] and literally insects are flying everywhere we closed all the windows and they’re all glued to the windows,” wrote one Lebanon-based Twitter user, as others referred to the swarms as “apocalyptic.” They come as a series of misfortunes have racked the country, including wildfires, economic issues, food insecurity and the coronavirus, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The bugs swarming Lebanon were identified by the Lebanese agricultural Research Institute as the Common Sun Beetle, Black Dung Beetle and Spinola Bug. The beetles are harmless, the Director of the Agricultural Scientific Research Department, Michel Frenn, told the Lebanese MTV news.
Assurances of the harmlessness of the insects didn’t calm many residents. “The only thing Lebanon was missing were swarms of insects. Just make the world end already,” wrote one social media user, according to Al-Araby.
Courtesy of jpost.com