Situation Update: Locust Crisis in Madagascar - 10 May 2016

Situation Update: Locust Crisis in Madagascar - 10 May 2016
May 2016

Locust situation

During March and until the end of the 2nd dekad of April 2016, weather and ecological conditions were highly suitable for the development of the Malagasy Migratory Locust. From the 3rd dekad period of April 2016, rainfall has become very sporadic. As a result, the vegetation started to dry out except in low-lying areas where some moisture was still present. Until late March 2016, Malagasy Migratory Locust populations of the 3rd and 2nd generations of the rainy season cohabited in the Transitory Multiplication Areas and in the Densation Areas of the north and central compartments (Bekily-Fotadrevo peneplain, Belomotra plateau, Befandriana-S. and Manja areas). Adults of the 2nd generation benefited from excellent laying conditions; they have progressively started to make room for the hopper populations of the 3rd generation that were also present as local infestations (Belomotra plateau, Befandriana-S. and Manja areas).

Not all hopper patches and bands could be detected and treated (sparsely inhabited areas – no reports received – and not accessible by ground); consequently, the first adults of the 3rd generation were observed during the 2nd dekad period of April 2016. Since late April, some grouped adult populations have been reported in the areas where local hopper infestations had been previously observed and they have started to be treated. In the Bekily-Fotadrevo peneplain, locust populations were scattered and highly heterogeneous (all instars, stages and phases).

Response

Implementation of the 3rd anti-locust campaign (September 2015 – June 2016). From 1 March to 10 May 2016, the mobile aerial base was active in the Outbreak Area of the Malagasy Migratory Locust in order to treat the last adults of the 2nd generation of the rainy season and control the hopper bands and the first adults of the 3rd generation. During this period and despite the immobilization of the helicopter from 5 to 15 April 2016 due to the 600-hour maintenance, locust populations were controlled by air (94 percent) and ground (6 percent) on an area of 214 475 ha (of which 89 percent with barrier treatments against hopper bands), bringing to 438 008 ha the total area treated since the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign. Given the delay in the shipment by sea of 56 000 litres of conventional pesticide donated by Morocco and in order to avoid an out-of-stock situation, FAO delivered 30 000 litres of conventional pesticide by air, of which 18 800 litres from Morocco (triangulation) and 11 200 litres purchased from an international supplier.

From 10 to 15 April, FAO organized a workshop on the revision of the environmental specifications for anti-locust control in Madagascar facilitated by one of the two international environmentalist experts who had elaborated the Human Health and Environmental Plan in August 2013. The construction of the central warehouse for pesticide storage and cleaning of empty-drums continues: from 14 to 19 April 2016, the project developer and an officer from FAO’s Infrastructure and Facilities Management Branch travelled to Toliara for a monitoring mission; they have expressed their appreciation for the progress of activities. Furthermore, on 16 April, the drum-crusher and its generator were installed in the dedicated building under the supervision of an international drum crusher expert that was on mission in Madagascar from 12 April to 10 May 2016. During his mission, the expert trained about ten staff members from the National Anti-Locust Centre on how to use the drum-crusher and supervised the first rinsing and pressing operations of the empty pesticide drums. The coordinator of the FAO’s response to the locust plague, who was on mission to Madagascar from 12 to 26 April 2016, presented the progress of the 3rd anti-locust campaign to all technical and financial partners during an information meeting held on 25 April 2016.