Madagascar faces threat of major plague of locusts
A massive migratory locust outbreak in southwestern
Madagascar may develop into a major plague unless control operations are expanded
quickly, warns FAO's Locust Group. FAO has appealed to the donor community for funds
totalling US$2 million to purchase the necessary pesticides, rent aircraft and
equipment and cover the expenses of ground teams to contain the outbreak.
The Locust Group's Desert Locust Update (March 1997) first reported the continuing
infestation of a very large area in the southwest of the country by widely distributed
swarms and hopper bands.
According to recent reports from Madagascar, despite intensive control by national
authorities, currently available resources are unable to cope with the infestations
now said to involve some 2 million hectares. And there is a high risk that further
breeding will occur over an increasingly large area.
"If not controlled, such breeding is expected to increase substantially, with
the likelihood of invasions of other parts of the country during the spring and a
subsequent reinvasion of the south in the autumn of 1997," said FAO. Such movements
could pose a major threat to agricultural production in Madagascar.
Desert locust update
Widespread infestations of desert locust hopper bands on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal
plains have been reported in the latest FAO
Desert Locust Bulletin (No. 223) . Large-scale aerial and ground control
operations have been mounted against these infestations, but given their widespread
nature and recent favourable breeding conditions, some hopper bands are likely to
escape and form new swarms that could pose a threat to nearby countries. These swarms
would probably move towards areas of recent rainfall in southwestern Saudi Arabia
and adjacent areas of Yemen, while others could move towards the central interior
of Saudi Arabia or west across the Red Sea towards Egypt and the Sudan.
No significant infestations were reported from Northwest or West Africa. Breeding
conditions remain unfavourable in most of the spring breeding areas of these regions
as a result of a lack of rainfall. If further rainfall does not occur, significant
breeding is unlikely and the threat to the Sahel of West Africa will be greatly diminished
17 April 1997