Efforts to contain red locusts in southern Malawi are being hampered by local communities who regard the migratory pests as a delicacy.
Local media, however, reports warnings by the Ministry of Agriculture to refrain from eating the insects, went largely unheeded in the Mulanje district.
“The red locust, dzombe as they are called locally, are regarded as an edible dish by some communities. We advise these communities to refrain from consuming weakened or dead insects which have been sprayed with pesticides,” Erica Maganga, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said in a statement.
Maganga said fully-grown, ravenous insects continue to damage crops.
“The red locusts are moving in the direction of Luchenza in Thyolo and Thuchila on the border with Chiradzulu, where damage to cassava, maize, banana, sweet potatoe and pigeon peas is reported,” she said.
On Wednesday, the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCOCSA) said it put five other members of the six-nation organisation – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania – on high alert, following the invasion in southern Malawi.
IRLCOCSA predicts the pests will be a great concern in the coming season and may affect food security in southern Africa, as climate changes brought about favourable breeding conditions.