Locust outbreaks reach new heights

With the Northern Cape experiencing the highest locust outbreaks this season, MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development,  Mase Manopole, visited several farms near Vosberg, to assess the impact the swam might have caused to emerging farmers in the area.

Recently, more areas in the Northern Cape have been experiencing huge outbreaks, with more locusts expected to move centrally in to the Province.

The National Department of Agriculture is using ground control teams and has sent an aircraft to assist with the aerial spraying and a team of experts to keep the spread under control.

Due to heavy rainfall across the country, there has been more than 21 reported endemic outbreak areas of the brown locust is some parts of the Province, moving centrally in to the Northern Cape.

The departmental officials have inspected the reported outbreaks and distributed the insecticides, protective clothing and spray pumps to the outbreak areas for the swarm control.

The brown locusts, as they are commonly called, are grasshoppers that are able to exist in either a solitary or gregarious phase. They are able to migrate over large areas and may even darken the sky in this stage. Brown locusts is an agricultural pest mostly found in the semi-arid Karoo region of the Northern Cape.

Where the main outbreaks are, the locust is mostly known to cause significant damage to crops and grasslands. Since the outbreak, the Department has been liaising with Organized Agriculture in the Province, to nominate people to be trained and appointed as Locust Control Contractors.

The team has been quick to respond when landowners and members of the public report the outbreak of locust to the nearest office of the Department.

The departmental officials continue to inspected the reported outbreaks and distributed the insecticides, protective clothing and spray pumps for outbreaks control.

Recently, new districts centrally in Northern Cape have been experiencing the outbreaks.

The flying adult swarms that have reached Upington district are believed to have originated from Prieska because most of farms in the area are unoccupied- thus, enhanced free breeding.

The locust control contractors have been activated to control the outbreak in the new districts.

MEC Manopole said the control and monitoring of the locust outbreaks will continue, however, due to large areas of unoccupied land in the Karoo, some of the swarms grow unnoticed and continue to lay eggs which hatch in numbers.  However, she is happy with the work and efforts that have been put by the Team in curbing the outbreak.

She further stated that the impact the locusts have, is on the land which is supposed to be grazed by the livestock and the crops that could be harvested for food security.

In Northern Cape Province, locust outbreak has increased to other districts in the following areas;

Britstown, Carnarvon, Colesberg, De Aar, Hanover, Loxton, Noupoort, Prieska, Richmond, Three Sisters, Victoria West, Van Vyksvlei, Marydale, Griekwastad, Kenhard, Groblershoop, Netherlea, Upington, Petrusville, Hopetown, Strydenburg and Vosburg.

The areas with more outbreak in Northern Cape are Hopetown, Prieska, Carnarvon and Vosburg.

MEC Manopole thanked the team for their hard work and dedication.

She further called on the farming community to continuously notify the Department when they see any potential outbreak in their respective areas.

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