Namibia is battling a third wave of African migrant red locust outbreaks, which have now destroyed 719,000 hectares of pastures and 1,207 hectares of crop fields in 10 of the country’s 14 regions, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday (April 27, 2021).
The latest outbreak of the large, red-winged grasshopper species, which is common in sub-Saharan Africa and long-term breeding in drought conditions after monsoon and rapid vegetation growth, began in December 2020.
The Karas region along the South African border, which is famed for diamond mining as well as small stock farming, is the hardest hit, with 775,000 hectares of grazing partly affected.
Grazing land in the fertile Zambezi region, which borders Zambia, Zimbabwe Angola and Botswana, has also been extensively damaged.
Agriculture ministry spokesman Chrispin Matongela told Reuters that the Namibian government has spent about 30 million Namibian dollars ($2.09 million) combating the locusts but a further 28 million Namibian dollars is urgently needed to contain them.
Matongela said it has been a challenge for Namibia to contain the locust outbreak since most of the swarms are flying in from neighboring Botswana and Zambia.
“To contain the locust outbreak with aerial spraying is quite a challenge because of how the community or villages are set up, as the pesticides could be harmful to humans and animals,” he said.
To control locusts, there are seven international organizations providing technical assistance and materials, as well as food and agriculture organizations among local farmers.