Locust outbreak grips parts of SA

Locust swarms REUTERS - Locust outbreak grips parts of SA

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, says South Africa is currently experiencing outbreaks of locusts in the Free State, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

Control measures are currently being implemented to curb the spread of the locusts.

The current strong winds are aiding the flight and spread of the locusts.

“I wish to urge farmers and farmer organisations to alert us whenever they spot these locusts and work with our officials on the ground to curb the spread,” says Didiza.

The Department says it has already dispatched a team of specialists to the affected provinces to work with the provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development officials, the Agricultural Research Council and farmer organisations.

Swarms destroy crops in the Karoo

In October, about 127 farms in vast areas of land in the Karoo in the Eastern Cape were affected by swarms of locusts that destroyed crops in parts that were already drought-stricken.

Middleburg and Graaf-Reinet were among the worst affected.

Provincial Agriculture provided farmers with chemicals to spray the affected areas.

Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture Entomologist Nolitha Skenjana says educating farmers on how to manage and spray the locust is key.

Farmers were also been given the necessary information to ensure that they adhere to the insecticide protocols, such as the use and storage of the insecticide and dosages needed per hectare, as seen in the video below:

Types of locusts

There are two classifications of the locusts; the hopers and the flyers.

Hopers pose little threat to the environment, and the department of agriculture’s aim is to manage this outbreak before the locusts reach the flying stage.

Pesticides that are used to kill these locusts are not harmful to the vegetation and livestock.

East Africa locust outbreak

The outbreak that gripped the Karoo followed a similar outbreak of desert locusts in East Africa, which destroyed crops in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

In the video below, East African countries battle with invasion of locusts:

-Additional reporting by Mcebisi Slengile

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