Brown locusts are swarming the Karoo region. Picture: The Food and Agriculture Organisation
Brown locusts are swarming the Karoo region. Picture: The Food and Agriculture Organisation

’Millions' of brown locusts sighted in the Karoo sparking fears of another plague

By Xolile Mtembu Time of article published Jan 8, 2022

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South Africans have taken to Social Media to share videos of ‘millions’ of brown locusts that were swarming parts of the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape on Wednesday.

These sightings have sparked new fears over the impact the insects might have on the country’s agriculture and economy, along with potentially threatening food supply.

The national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s media spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said the country’s farmers have support through the locust control campaign where they are provided with insecticide, spraying pumps and protective clothing to enable them to control the outbreak.

“The challenge is with vacant farmers where farmers can not identify the danger quickly enough. Farmers that are present on their land are trained and are aware, they spray the locusts while they are still small. After six weeks they can fly and go with the wind in that cohort and destroy, and then depart.”

Ngcobo said the main challenge lies in the Karoo region where the sightings were reported. According to the spokesperson, yesterday, the department received a false alarm from a caller in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, who claimed that the locusts were swarming in the province but those were later confirmed to not be brown locusts.

“Locusts only come out after heavy rains,” he said. “South Africa experiences such an outbreak every ten years, so the last one was in 2010, so, if you look at the two previous years, that’s when we started experiencing this again.”

He said farmers must remain vigilant in identifying and reporting them as soon as possible. “We urge members of the public as well to report them to their local offices or organisations because we work closely with them in this fight in all the provinces to make sure that we have this thing under control.”

The spokesperson said the coastal regions of the country have not reported any issues, but it could be possible that they could reach these areas because of the heavy rains and wind.

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