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Madagascar locust crisis
Since April 2012, a locust plague threatens 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. In September 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO launched a Three-year emergency Programme. The Programme aims to bring back the locust situation to a recession and safeguard the food security of the vulnerable rural populations.
Timing is crucial
Underfunding for the 2010/11 and 2011/12 locust campaigns meant that uncontrolled locust populations were able to develop, multiply and spread quickly, destroying crops and pastures. What started as an upsurge turned into a plague.
Emergency response to the locust plague
With sufficient funding, FAO, together with the national authorities, will continue to carry out the requested large-scale aerial campaigns to control locust populations. The first campaign under the Three-year Programme (2013/14) successfully halted the plague, while protecting crops and pastures. More than 30 million hectares were surveyed and locust populations were controlled on an area exceeding 1.4 million hectares. However, two more control campaigns (2014/15 and 2015/16) are needed to return to a locust recession situation.
Funding will also enable FAO to strengthen local capacity to survey and control locust crises, to analyse related data and to monitor the impact of control operations on human health and the environment, while ensuring the overall coordination of the activities. Of the total funds requested to implement the Three-year Programme (USD 39.4 million), FAO has received USD 28.8 million.
The Three-year Programme must be completed to ensure an effective recession of the locust populations in Madagascar. The current funding gap exceeds USD 10 million.
Survey and control operations
In collaboration with the Government, FAO deploys mobile aerial bases, which move with the locust population dynamics. More than 99 percent of the treatments are conducted by air.
Locust populations have been controlled on over 1.6 million hectares since the start of the spraying operations of first campaign in November 2013. The Programme is designed to minimize the impact of locust control operations on Madagascar’s ecosystem, one of the richest in the world. For example, when the infested areas are near national parks or in areas with sensitive ecosystems, control operations are carried out with biopesticides only.