Response to the locust plague in Madagascar: Final report for campaign No.1 (September 2013 - August 2014)

Response to the locust plague in Madagascar: Final report for campaign No.1 (September 2013 - August 2014)
Jan 2015

The plague of the Malagasy Migratory Locust began in April 2012 in Madagascar, in a context where food insecurity and malnutrition rates were already high. Given the extent of the plague, it was estimated that the food security of about 13 million people (60 percent of the population) could be affected in the absence of large-scale locust control operations. To cope with this dire situation, in December 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Madagascar and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations developed a Three-year Programme (2013–2016) in response to the locust plague.

Donor response has been timely and positive. The first locust campaign was fully funded and successfully implemented. The specific objective of the campaign, aimed at halting the dynamics of the locust plague while protecting crops and pastures, was achieved. Following surveys carried out on more than 30 million ha, the locust populations in an area exceeding 1.2 million ha were controlled, without any incident affecting human health or the environment and without causing significant damage to the major rice baskets.

These results were obtained owing to the implementation of large-scale aerial survey and control operations in the infested areas. The operations were executed from three aerial bases, which were redeployed as needed in accordance with the evolving locust situation. A total of 1 025 hours were flown for survey operations and 1 017 hours for control operations by three helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft, which reinforced aerial control capacities for a three-month period.

The strategy adopted to tackle the locust plague in Madagascar includes the use of: conventional chemical pesticides for full cover treatments against adult locusts and late instar hopper bands; insect growth regulators (IGRs) for barrier treatments to rapidly protect large areas contaminated by hopper bands; and biopesticides to treat locations near or within environmentally sensitive areas. In total, more than 600 000 litres of IGRs and conventional pesticides and 83 kg of biopesticides were used during the first campaign to treat two-thirds of the contaminated area using full cover and barrier treatments.

The 2013/14 campaign significantly contributed to the strengthening of national capacities through the delivery of specific trainings in various technical domains. These trainings were complemented with on-site practical training sessions provided by various experts working in the field.

In order to sustain the results achieved during the first campaign, it is essential to support the decline of the locust plague during the 2014/15 campaign and return, in 2016, to a locust recession situation (overall objective of the Three-year Programme), thus putting an end to the locust crises’ cycle and avoiding further deterioration of the significant food insecurity situation.