Due to the recent heavy rainfall, there have been more than 21 reported endemic outbreak areas in the Province – MEC
LARGE areas of the Northern Cape have been infested by swarms of brown locusts following heavy rainfall.
Brown locusts – an agricultural pest mostly found in the semi-arid Karoo region of the Northern Cape – are able to darken the sky as they migrate.
The MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mase Manopole, said on Wednesday that a number of areas in the Province were experiencing large outbreaks.
“Due to heavy rainfall across the country, there have been more than 21 reported endemic outbreak areas of the brown locust in some parts of the Northern Cape, moving centrally into the Province.”
Manopole said that Hopetown, Prieska, Caranrvon and Vosburg were the first areas to be affected by the outbreak.
“The outbreak has since spread to Britstown, Carnarvon, Colesberg, De Aar, Hanover, Loxton, Noupoort, Prieska, Richmond, Three Sisters, Victoria West, Van Vyksvlei, Marydale, Griekwastad, Kenhardt, Groblershoop, Netherlea, Upington, Petrusville, Hopetown and Strydenburg.”
Manopole said that flying adult swarms that had reached the Upington region were believed to have originated in the Prieska region.
“Most of the farms in the area are unoccupied and this has enhanced rapid breeding.”
The locust control contractors have been activated to control the outbreak in the new districts, Manopole said.
She added that due to large areas of unoccupied land in the Karoo, some of the swarms grew unnoticed and continued to lay eggs, which hatch in large numbers.
“Locusts cause significant damage to crops and grasslands and are destroying grazing land for livestock and the crops that could be harvested for food security.”
Manopole said that the department was continuing to control and monitor the outbreaks. “Locust control contractors have also been activated to control the outbreaks in the new districts.”
She added that the national Department of Agriculture was also making use of ground control teams and had sent an aircraft to assist with aerial spraying.
“A team of experts has been deployed to keep the spread under control. Department officials have inspected the reported outbreaks and distributed the insecticides, protective clothing and spray pumps to the outbreak areas for the swarm control.”
Manopole said that since the outbreak, the department has been liaising with organised agriculture in the Province, to nominate people to be trained and appointed as locust control contractors.
“The team has been quick to respond when landowners and members of the public report the outbreak of locusts to the nearest office of the department.”
She called on members of the farming community to continuously notify the department when they noticed any potential outbreak in their respective areas.