News and Information

Outbreak of locusts pose threat to Caprivi harvest
November 1, 2004
JOHANNESBURG - A senior agricultural expert has appealed for additional resources to control an outbreak of locusts threatening the new harvest in the Caprivi Region.

"Fortunately, there are no crops in the ground right now, so the damage has been negligible.

But unless more pesticide spray becomes available, we may find that within a month the locusts would have hatched and this could cause severe damage to emerging crops," Caprivi-based Food and Agricultural Organisation consultant James Breen told Irin.

The infestation follows an outbreak of anthrax in the province, brought by encroaching game from neighbouring Botswana's Chobe national park.

Breen warned that the locusts signalled an even greater threat to food security in the province, which has already experienced three consecutive years of drought.

In 2002 swarms of locusts destroyed almost 300 hectares of maize fields in the vicinity of Lake Liambezi in southeastern Caprivi.

"We have managed to control a swarm 20 km east of Kongola [in northeastern Caprivi] which was 7 km long, but already today [Wednesday] it has been reported that 10 km north of Kongola there is another large swarm.

It is very important that more funds are made available for equipment for the control operation," he said.

Meanwhile, provincial health authorities confirmed that 10 people had been admitted to hospital with suspected anthrax.

A spokesman for Katima Mulilo State Hospital told Irin they were all believed to have come into contact with infected animals.

"Contrary to warnings, people still eat the carcasses of animals without knowing what the animal died from, but all of those infected are in a stable condition," he said.

The anthrax outbreak was reported last month in eastern Caprivi and has since reportedly killed at least 20 animals.

- Irin


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