Red Locust disaster in Eastern Africa prevented

Red Locust disaster in Eastern Africa prevented

24/06/2009

An international Red Locust emergency campaign in Eastern and Southern Africa has succeeded in containing a massive locust outbreak in Tanzania, FAO said today. It is the first time that biopesticides are being used on a large scale in Africa against locusts.

The rapid intervention has markedly reduced Red Locust infestations thereby preventing a full-blown invasion that could have affected the food crops of around 15 million people in the region, the agency said. FAO organized and coordinated the campaign together with the International Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA).

Aerial survey and control operations will continue during the next weeks in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, until the locust threat is fully under control.

"Without the rapid intervention, involving affected countries and the international community the Central and Southern Africa region could have faced a major Red Locust disaster, putting agriculture and food production of millions of poor farmers at risk," said FAO Assistant Director-General Modibo Traoré.

"The concerted and coordinated effort of all partners involved in this campaign is a model for combating other transboundary pests that are threatening the region." Surveys carried out in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe by IRLCO-CSA and Ministries of Agriculture revealed serious Red Locust infestations, particularly in Tanzania.