Madagascar has been facing a plague of the Malagasy Migratory Locust since April 2012 that threatens the livelihoods of vulnerable rural populations in the country. Given the current threat to food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a mission to assess the actual and potential impact of this plague on crops and pastures in order to inform all stakeholders and enable them to undertake effective measures in a timely manner.
The mission, composed of an international consultant and a locust expert, visited Madagascar from 17 April to 12 May 2013, and more specifically the regions most affected by the plague, namely Atsimo-Andrefana, Bongolava and Menabe, in the south and west. The assessment was conducted in close collaboration with the Plant Protection Directorate, including the Locust Watch Unit, the National Locust Centre and other national stakeholders. The main findings and preliminary conclusions of the assessment were presented to technical and financial partners at the Ministry of Agriculture on 10 May 2013. The assessment indicates that the current situation is very serious and continually evolving.
The estimation of crop damage was confined mainly to rice, a key crop for Madagascar. However, the estimated damage to rice crops should be complemented by a more complete and systematic assessment. Furthermore, for the region of Atsimo Andrefana (part of the former province of Toliara), it was difficult to separate the impact of cyclone Haruna from the effects of the plague, especially considering that there are some causal links between the cyclone and the plague (heavy and widespread rains offered suitable breeding conditions to locusts). The evolving nature of the locust threat also requires that a wide margin be used to estimate crop damage. As a result, it is difficult to identify the impact of the locust damage on the country’s food balance at a given moment, especially as estimates of national rice supplies can also be difficult to determine, particularly in regard to stocks.