It’s believed they could migrate to the Free State. Areas likely to be infested first in the province are the Xhariep District and the western side of the Lejweleputswa District. Locusts eat all kinds of leafy plants and can cause great damage to crops. A locust outbreak last year wreaked havoc on some farms. The recent good rains have led to ideal conditions for the brown locusts to thrive. Free State Agriculture Department’s Disaster and Risk Manager, Mafa Mokoaqo, say they experienced some challenges during last year’s outbreak.
“They came last year and laid a lot of eggs. We were lucky we managed to control some of them. The problem was on the private farms where the farmers couldn’t allow us to spray. So they laid a lot of eggs and these eggs they are starting to hatch from September until October. So December when they started flying or migrating in search of food. Our concern as a department is food security because they cause a lot of damage.”
Marnus Nel is a farmer from Petrusburg, the area is likely to be infested first in the province.
“We as farmers in the Free State are very concerned about the situation as we feel there is not enough being done by the department in the Northern Cape as these swarms at a controllable size. But given time they will reach sizes where control will be very difficult. The precautions that we are taking in the Free State is to get enough insecticides.”
The Department of Agriculture says they have Local District Officers to control locust outbreaks. It has called on farmers to report any brown locusts they detect to the officers, so teams can be sent out to spray them. The Department’s Mafa Mokoaqo explains.
“We control them during the night because when they are flying, it’s difficult to control. But once the farmers can detect them, they should inform us and send us the location where they are. Then we will send those DLOs. They will control them.”
According to the department’s calculations, the locusts will reach maturity and start flying in less than 14 days. If not sprayed now, they will be difficult to control.
Farmers fear worst infestation of brown locusts: Andrea Campher