RUNDU – The ministry of agriculture says it is unable to secure an effective biological pesticide that is environmentally acceptable and approved for aerial application as a measure to control the locust outbreak in Kavango East.
The supply of this pesticide is in high demand by several African countries where severe outbreaks of locusts are currently experienced.
In a statement, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein said due to the delay, his ministry has resorted to control measures administered from the ground (vehicles mounted sprayers and knapsack sprayers) in the most severely hit areas.
The ministry said the second wave outbreak of the Red Migratory Locusts in Namibia is more severe than the first, which started in Zambezi region earlier this year.
This time around, the outbreak is of mainly swarming locusts (flying swarms) and is occurring in northern-central and eastern Namibia, moving southwards.
“The most effective method of control under current circumstances is aerial spraying, although the ministry has ordered it can only be delivered in six months, as the supplier is unable to deliver now due to high demand, as many countries affected by locusts have made orders,” the minister said.
“European suppliers have informed that they can deliver in six months only, and the only African supplier in Morocco equally struggles to meet the demand. We have roped in the assistance of development partners and the Food and Agriculture Organisation to acquire appropriate pesticides and equipment to strengthen our efforts in controlling the outbreak.”
The ministry has enlisted the support of the Namibian Defence Force and National Youth Service to strengthen manpower capacity on the ground.
“Training logistical arrangements and procurement of additional equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) is underway in our bid to ensure that this critical personnel join our teams in the shortest time possible,” Schlettwein said.
The ministry has appealed to communities and all stakeholders to assist with combating this severe locust outbreak.
Onslaught… The agriculture ministry is currently battling a locust outbreak in north-eastern Namibia.