A swarm of red locust is growing in Zambia’s Central Province while current climate conditions increase the prevalence of these migratory insects.
The International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCOCSA) considers it a threat to food security in several of its member states, including Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania.
“We noticed its population is quite high in the Lukanga swamps and Kafue flats. We need to move in and control it,” said Peter Lungu, acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture. Lungu said government spent large sums to conduct surveys for red locust in its breeding grounds in the province.
Last year, these migratory crop-eating grasshoppers destroyed maize fields in Central Province. IRLCOCSA conducted aerial spraying of 4 000 ha and ground spraying of more than 500 ha in the Kafue plains.
The organisation needed K10 million to exterminate the red locusts, with the Zambian government releasing K4.6 million to meet part of the budgetary requirements. Meanwhile, IRLCOCSA said current climate conditions, mixed with intermittent rain, can encourage the build-up of armyworm and locust populations.
Malawi is already grappling with an outbreak of red locust in southern parts of the country, where it destroyed crop fields.