Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, who visited some of the pest-ridden areas by the African Migratory Red Locust in the Zambezi region, says the infestation is paltry.
The locust swarm was reported on 12 August 2020, notably at Muzi, Namiyundu, Ivilivizi, Lusese, Ihaha, Nakabolelwa, Masikili, Malindi, Ibbu, Ngala, Muyako, Mahundu, Machita, Kikiya, Kanono, Muketela, Linyanti, Chinchimani and Kapani areas.
Since then, more reports are still being received on a daily basis.
Schlettwein was joined last week by the Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu and the agriculture executive director Percy Misika.
“We came here to see for ourselves on what is happening and see the seriousness of the locust infestations. We found out that infestation is paltry. It is not the same all over but where it is dense, it is a serious problem,” he observed.
The agricultural officials are currently busy on the ground, spraying against the red locusts with mist blowers and vehicle mounted sprayers in the region.
He said the teams spray flying locusts in the morning, as well as in the evening when they are settled.
The pests are said to be very active during the day.
The teams fog the air, and it is not a contact spray where they try to hit the insects, Schlettwein explained.
Schlettwein earlier said an estimated N$30 million will be required to contain the outbreak in the region.
He said a total area of 4 002km² has been invaded and 500 hectares of grazing land has been destroyed by locusts.
Schlettwein noted several challenges are being faced by the teams on the ground, which include lack of camping equipment, vehicles and the vastness of the area.
The resources that have been identified and are needed as a matter of urgency include 15 vehicle mounted sprayers, 35 mist blowers, four single cabs and eight double cabs to transport personnel and equipment, 760 litres of Deltamethrin; 1 500 personal protective equipment (PPE), 10 first aid kits, 40 [items of] camping equipment, which include gas stoves, torches, mattresses, snake repellent and mosquito nets.
This is the second outbreak in the region this year, following the first outbreak in February 2020.
Following the reports on the locust outbreak, a spraying team, comprising 35 staff members, trained in methods to combat outbreaks, from different agricultural development centres across the country, have been deployed.
A total of six vehicles, 14 mist blowers and four vehicle-mounted sprayers are being used to combat the outbreak.
Furthermore, the ministry has dispatched 4 175 litres of pesticide to contain the outbreak.