Specialist team deployed to Free State, Northern Cape, Western Cape amid locust outbreak

SABC News Locusts R - Specialist team deployed to Free State, Northern Cape, Western Cape amid locust outbreak

A team of specialists from the national Department of Agriculture have been deployed to areas of the Free State, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

Major locust outbreaks have been reported in parts of all three provinces.

The first outbreak was in February and the second in September.

Swarms of brown locusts return to the Karoo area:

Though small, each insect eats its own body weight in food daily and in large swarming numbers are devastating to crops. Damages are mostly to grazing veld recovering after the drought.

The most effective means to control the outbreak is by preventing the insects from developing into flying swarms. This is done through chemical spraying.

In the Murraysburg area and surrounds, 300 swarms have already been sprayed and more are done daily.

Locusts have a lifespan of around two months and during this period, massive swarms can form, destroying everything in its path. The insects are light and can be swept to different areas by the wind.

Farmers are requested to report swarms to the provincial and national departments of agriculture and other farmer organisations.

Free State department of Agriculture says it’s doing its utmost to curb the spread of the outbreak.

Provincial agriculture HOD Takisi Masiteng says some areas are seriously affected.

“We are working together with the national department to assist us to curb this spread of the locust. There are places that are seriously affected like Rouxwille, but they managed to spray. Phillipolis is also one of the areas. But we are working closely; the teams are there. Every day they will be with us but areas that are badly affected are in the Xhariep district.”

– Additional reporting by Aphumelele Mdlalane. 

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