Madagascar is highly prone to natural hazards, including drought, floods, cyclones and locust outbreaks, with significant humanitarian consequences. In the Grand Sud region, three years of consecutive severe drought have wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food, leading to critical levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition. A recent upsurge of Malagasy migratory locust is expected to affect the upcoming agricultural season (November 2021–March 2022), further aggravating an already dire situation.
It is forecasted that at least 400 000 ha will be infested by Malagasy migratory locusts, covering six regions in Madagascar, including 21 districts; of these, nine have undergone an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis, and five are classified as emergency, two as crisis and two as stressed.
The locust outbreak could have major socio-economic and environmental impacts if not contained in a timely manner. An estimated 1 million people may have their livelihoods, food security and nutrition affected because of crop and pasture damages caused by the Malagasy migratory locust. In 2013, a Malagasy migratory locust plague affected two-thirds of the country, resulting in rice crop losses of up to 40 percent.
Thanks to Germany’s generous contribution, FAO will implement an anticipatory action project within the framework of the Action Plan developed together with the Malagasy Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. To anticipate and mitigate the expected major locust outbreak in Madagascar, FAO will work in close collaboration with the National Locust Centre (Ivotoerana Famongorana ny Valala eto Madagasikara [IFVM]), whose staff will make up the teams deployed in the field focusing on survey, treatment, health and environmental monitoring, pesticide management and biopesticide.
The anticipatory action aims to safeguard the food security of the most vulnerable rural populations in Madagascar by halting the drivers of the major outbreak of Malagasy migratory locust while strengthening national capacities on locust management, including through the following:
- provision of surveillance and control equipment;
- good agricultural practices to ensure products are of high quality, safe, and produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way;
- provision of an air asset for locust survey and control operations;
- reconditioning of assets (vehicles, sprayers, pumps, etc.) of IFVM required for implementing the locust campaign;
- deployment of national and international technical expertise for training IFVM technicians, and the supervision and coordination of field operations.
Curbing the spread of the Malagasy migratory locusts is critical to prevent a repeat of the last locust plague in the country and protect the livelihoods of communities most at risk.