Locusts destroy 500 hectares of grazing

By Rosalia David

A total area of 4 002 km squared has been invaded while 500 hectares of grazing have been destroyed by red locust in the Zambezi region, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Calle Schlettwein announced in the National Assembly last week.

He said the presence of the African Migratory Red Locust was first reported on August 12 notably at Muzi, Namiyundu, lvilivizi, Lusese, lhaha, Nakabolelwa, Masikili, Malindi, lbbu, Ngala, Muyako, Mahundu, Machita, Kikiya, Kanono, Muketela, Linyanti, Chinchimani and Kapani areas.

However, since then, the ministry continues to receive more reports on a daily basis.

Following the daily reports on the locust outbreak, Schlettwein said, a spraying team comprising of 35 staff members that are trained in methods to combat outbreaks from different agricultural development centres across the country, has been deployed.

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He said a total of six vehicles, 14 mist blowers, and four vehicles mounted sprayers are being used to combat the current outbreak.

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“Furthermore the Ministry has dispatched 4175 litres of pesticides to contain the pest outbreak.

The pesticides include Decis, Deltathrin, Servus, Cyperfos and Klorpirifo.

Currently the team is using mist blowers that are vehicle mounted and knapsack sprayers to combat the outbreak.”

Other resources needed are 10 First Aid kits, 1 500 PPEs, 40 camping equipment which includes gas stoves, torches, mattresses, snake repellents and mosquito nets.

Despite efforts to fight the outbreak, considering the vastness of the region, Schlettwein noted that more resources in terms of manpower, fleet, equipment, Personnel Protective Equipment (PPEs) are urgently required to effectively deal with the situation.

He added that the African migratory red locust has also affected neighboring countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe which are now using aerial spraying methods that cause the locust to migrate to other countries.

“Therefore, to further enhance the containment of this outbreak the current mode of spraying needs to be complemented with aerial spraying as the spread is getting intense and also to prevent the spread of the locust to other regions within the country.

“I am proud to announce that the ministry is also receiving support from its international partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, AFDB and GIZ.

There are several challenges being faced by the team on the ground which includes: lack of camping equipment, vehicles, and vastness of the area.

Based on the above identified challenges, we are convinced that aerial spraying shall be introduced to combat the outbreak in a more effective and faster way and reinforce teams to constitute six staff members on a rotational basis.

All this will require an estimated amount of N million to cover resources required to contain the outbreak.