Preparation for locusts
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
stakeholders in Agriculture to organise in advance against a locust invasion
are indeed timely and tangible. It is certain that agriculture continues to be
one of the most important sectors, employing 80-85 per cent of the Gambian
In this respect, government, over the years, hasmaintained its policy objective of increasing agricultural output, improving national income and food security, and generating maximum foreign exchange earnings. Government also continues to collaborate vigorously with the donor community, private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to optimally achieve these objectives.
the Sahel crop failure has already put a great strain on the realisation of
these objectives. With this year’s farming season progressing at a convincing
pace, it is therefore essential that preparations are made in advance against
any potential threat to the maximisation of our productive capacity in farming,
particularly against locusts.
A plague of locusts is a devastating natural disaster, feared and documented throughout history. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery like famine and starvation. They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in Africa, the desert locust in particular. Found mainly in Equatorial regions, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of the Earth's land surface. Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world's humans.
A desert locust swarm can be 1,200 square kilometres in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into one square kilometre. Each locust will try to eat its own weight in greenery a day, so such a swarm would eat almost 200 million kilograms of plants every day; crop destruction on a truly monumental scale.
words, a single swarm of locust - which consists of millions of locusts, can
cover hundreds of square miles with immense ease. Being migratory species, a
swarm of locusts can travel across hundreds of miles within a short span of
time, whilst damaging food crops and vegetation that they come across.
A single swarm of locusts which consists of millions of locusts, can easily weigh several metric tons; and if you take into consideration the fact that a single locust can eat as much as its body weight in a day, the damage that they can do becomes all the more obvious. Though the lifespan of a locust is just a few months, the amount of destruction they cause as a swarm, easily makes them the worst agricultural pests that you are likely to come across.
As the minister of agriculture put it, ‘The Gambia is in the Sahelian agro-climate zone, thus exposing it to unpredictable weather conditions including drought, floods, declining soil fertility, pest and diseases outbreak, as well as locust upsurges. These incidences have overall negative effects on agricultural production and productivity, and consequently on food security and poverty alleviation; all of which directly put the realisation of our cherished Vision 2020 at risk.
Already, records show that The Gambia had experienced a full scale infestation from 1986-1988, again an upsurge in 1994, and also recently in 2004/2005. Preparing for a likely locust invasion on time is therefore in the best interest of our drive to food security and sustainability of our agriculture.
Author: Daily Observer