500 hectares stripped by locust swarm

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein yesterday said an estimated N$30 million will be required to contain the African migratory red locust outbreak in the Zambezi region, which has destroyed 500 hectares of grazing land.
The presence of the African migratory red locust was reported on 12 August 2020 notably at Muzi, Namiyundu, Ivilivizi, Lusese, Ihaha, Nakabolelwa, Masikili, Malindi, Ibbu, Ngala, Muyako, Mahundu, Machita, Kikiya, Kanono, Muketela, Linyanti, Chinchimani and Kapani areas. Since then more reports are still being received on a daily basis.

Schlettwein noted that several challenges are being faced by the teams on the ground which include lack of camping equipment, vehicles, and the vastness of the area. “Based on the above identified challenges, we are convinced that aerial spraying should be introduced to combat the outbreak in a more effective and faster way, and reinforce teams to constitute staff members on a rotational basis,” he said when providing an update on the locust outbreak in Zambezi, in the National Assembly yesterday.

He said more capacity would be required to contain the outbreak. “The following resources have been identified and are needed as a matter of urgency. These include 15 vehicle mounted sprayers, 35 mist blowers, four single cabs and eight double cabs to transport personnel and equipment, 760 litres of Deltamethrin; 1 500 personal protective equipment (PPE), 10 first aid kits, 40 [items of] camping equipment which include gas stoves, torches, mattresses, snake repellent and mosquito nets,” the minister said. This is the second outbreak in the region this year following the first outbreak in February 2020.

He said a total area of 4002 km² has been invaded and 500 hectares of grazing land has been destroyed by locusts.
Following the reports on the locust outbreak, he said, a spraying team comprising 35 staff members that are trained in methods to combat outbreaks, from different agricultural development centres across the country, has been deployed.
A total of six vehicles, 14 mist blowers, and four vehicle-mounted sprayers are being used to combat the outbreak.
Furthermore, he said, the ministry has dispatched 4 175 litres of pesticide to contain the outbreak.

“Currently the team is using mist blowers that are vehicle-mounted and knapsack sprayers to combat the outbreak. Considering the vastness of the region, more resources in terms of manpower, fleet, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) are urgently required to effectively combat the outbreak,” he maintained. The African migratory red locust has affected northern and north-eastern neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to him, some of these countries are using aerial spraying methods that cause the locust to migrate to another country. The locusts are said to be facilitated by the wind and can fly about 150 km per day.

The ministry of agriculture’s chief agricultural scientific officer in the Zambezi region, Violet Simataa, told New Era that the spraying teams have since Wednesday been reinforced to enhance the current teams on the ground.

“But there is a change because in August when we reported the locust outbreak, these locusts were still in a hopping phase. But now these hoppers have matured to fliers. Our teams are doing their best to contain the situation. We still need more reinforcements to continue combating the pests,” she said. –

Albertina Nakale