1125 GMT January 19, 2019
The ceremony was organised in collaboration with the Plant Protection Organization of the Iranian Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture and attended by Mr. Mohammad Hossein Shariatmadar, Senior Adviser to the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Mohammad Ali Baghestani, Director of the Plant Protection Organization, Mr Serge Nakouzi, FAO Representative to Islamic Republic of Iran, delegates from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, a wide range of experts and academics on desert locusts from the country’s public and private sectors as well as officials from FAO headquarters and its Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa.
“Locust outbreaks and upsurges have been curbed and the region has avoided serious plagues as a result of the timely intervention by SWAC over the past fifty years” noted the FAO Representative to Iran, Mr Serge Nakouzi, in his statement at the event.
The FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia (SWAC) is the oldest of the three regional commissions within the global locust early warning and prevention system.
Over the past five decades, SWAC activities have contributed to securing an increase in food production in the four countries (Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan) by protecting crops from locusts and increasing resilience through the establishment of effective early warning, contingency planning and preventive control.
Highlighting that the cost of curative desert locust control far exceeds the cost of prevention, Mr Nakouzi stated that SWAC had provided an invaluable contribution to the countries of the South-West Asia region in preventing major outbreaks of the locust. However, SWAC’s activities were being placed at risk due to the non-payment of contributions by member countries and as a result of the fact that the annual contribution levels have remained at the same level as they were 50 years ago.
The other FAO Regional Desert Locust Commissions had recently agreed to increase their member country annual contributions so as to meet the rising costs in addressing the issues of locust outbreaks and prevention.
Pointing out that “costs are 15 times higher today than they were in 1964”, the FAO Representative urged that consideration be given by the SWAC member countries to do the same in order to strengthen the Commission’s capabilities so as “to ensure another 50 years of successful preventive control and to secure sustainable food security and livelihoods for our people and the nations of this region not only in our contemporary era but also for the future generations”.
The Regional Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia was established following a recommendation made by the member nations directly affected by the desert locust in the region at a special FAO meeting convened in Tehran in October 1962. This recommendation was endorsed by the FAO Desert Locust Control Committee at its 8th Session in May 1963 and subsequently approved by all FAO Member States at the 12th Session of the Organization’s Conference in December 1963.
The Agreement establishing SWAC entered into force on 15 December 1964, upon the receipt of the third instrument of acceptance from the regional member countries concerned. The Agreement was registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations on 2 April 1965.