Unreported locust swarms are slowing down the fight against the brown locust swooping across the country right now. Agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza has urged farmers to inspect for locust on their properties and to report its presence without delay.
The minister has extended the plea to the general public as some swarms go unreported on unoccupied farms, game farms and in environmental parks, and are proving to be a challenge in the fight against a countrywide outbreak.
The country has seen increasing numbers of locusts since September 2021 after some August rain in the Karoo region of the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape.
The department has since appointed and trained locust control contractors in all affected areas. Contractors were provided with insecticide, spraying pumps and protective clothing but Didiza says they are being challenged.
“The challenge towards our locust control campaign is unreported locust swarms in unoccupied farms, game and environmental parks. These unreported locust swarms go unnoticed and end up growing, becoming adults and flying to crop and pastureland and causing extensive damage,” she said.
Didiza applauded the commando system used to control the pest, a “working relationship between agricultural unions and government”.
Quick and devastating
Social media users have published footage of swarms on the move in recent days. An Eastern Cape farmer, Jannie Louw, shared a video with Food For Mzansi of thick swarms of the insects devouring thousands of hectares of grazing on his farm in the Karoo.
According to Louw the locusts cleaned him out in two days. 3 000 hectares of grazing land on his farm were destroyed. In his interview Louw said that he was disappointed the Eastern Cape department of rural development and agrarian reform did not react to the outbreak sooner.
The national department has, in the meantime, appointed farmers as locust control contractors as they are on the farms on a daily basis. This working relationship between the farming community and the department, Didiza said, is aiding their efforts immensely in the fight against the insects.
“As we enter the festive season, together with control contractors we will continue to ensure that controlling of locusts swarms gets our undivided attention. The locusts are now in a mixed stage. Adults ones will follow the wind to move from one province to another.”
After recent good rains motorists are cautioned of driving through swarms of locusts in the Northern Cape. Stay Alert to the flying locusts and the threats of a dirty windscreen and poor visibility! [Photos by Koos Smit] https://t.co/I3qCpzzLLI #ArriveAlive #Locusts @AgriSA1904 pic.twitter.com/JefQd4qI3y— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) December 18, 2021
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