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Madagascar locust crisis
A locust plague is threatening the livelihoods of 13 million people in Madagascar, nine million of whom earn a living from agriculture. Locust infestations, if untreated, could wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands – and with it a family’s ability to provide for itself.
More than USD 22 million is needed before June 2013 to launch the first campaign of a three-year USD 41.5 million emergency programme to combat locusts in the country. At least 1.5 million hectares covering two-thirds of the country could be infested by locusts by September 2013.
The heart of the locust plague is in the country’s southwestern region – an area prone to drought and cyclones, where more than 80 percent of the people live below the poverty line. In February 2013, Cyclone Haruna flooded rice fields in the region’s coastal areas – rice production is central to Madagascar’s economy – causing significant damage while also creating ideal breeding conditions for locusts.
Timing is crucial
Underfunding for the locust campaigns in 2010/2011 and in 2011/2012 meant that uncontrolled locust populations were able to develop and spread quickly, destroying crops and pastures. What started as an upsurge turned into a plague.
With sufficient funding, FAO, together with the national authorities, will be able to carry out the requested large-scale aerial operations to treat and protect 1.5 million hectares from September 2013 to mid-2014 – and a total of 2.15 million hectares from 2013 until 2016.
Funding would also enable FAO to strengthen local capacity to survey, analyze and control locust crises and to monitor the impact of treatment on human health and the environment.