Flooding of Itezhi-Tezhi dam halts red locust fight

red locust

The International Red Locust Control for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCo-CSA) has suspended operations to curb the spread of red locusts in the Kafue plains, Central province. IRLCo-CSA director Moses Okhaba says the opening of the Itezhi-Tezhi dam spillway gates caused flooding and the risk that further spraying will contaminate the water.

The suspension caused more panic amongst farmers in Mumbwa where the migratory crop eating grasshoppers continue to ravage maize fields. Authorities opened the flood gates after the dam reached capacity due to heavy rain. Scores of families were displaced by flooding downstream.

The IRLCo-CSA last month started with the aerial spraying of some 4 000 hectares and ground spraying of more than 400 hectares in the Kafue plains. Okhaba said once they can resume operations, his organisation will use a fixed wing spray aircraft to clear about 6 000 hectares of the fledging population of red locusts.

The Zambian government contributed K4.6 million to the operation, but the IRLCO-CSA needed K10 million to exterminate the plague.

District commissioner of Mumbwa, Felix Ndopu, said farmers in his area are very worried about red locust in their maize crops. “Despite the fields having been sprayed earlier in the year, the heavy rains had washed away the chemicals, and the red locusts have continued to ravage maize fields, invading over 800 hectares.”

 

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