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Response to the locust plague in Madagascar: Final report for campaign No.2 (September 2014 - August 2015)

Response to the locust plague in Madagascar: Final report for campaign No.2 (September 2014 - August 2015)
May 2016

The current Malagasy Migratory Locust plague began in April 2012. Crops (mainly rice) and pastures were at risk of considerable damage from this locust plague, which could have had a significant negative impact on domestic supply and grain prices. In view of the scale of the plague, it was estimated that the food security of 13 million people (60 percent of the population) could be affected without large-scale locust control operations. To tackle this catastrophic situation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of Madagascar developed jointly a Three-year Emergency Programme in response to the plague in December 2012.

The first anti-locust campaign of the Three-year Programme (September 2013 – August 2014) was a success: more than 30 million hectares were surveyed, making it possible to control locust populations over more than 1.2 million hectares while respecting human health and the environment. The specific objective of this campaign, which aimed to stem the dynamics of the plague whilst protecting crops and pastures, was thus achieved.

Despite some difficulties obtaining the necessary funding in time during the second anti-locust campaign (September 2014 – August 2015), the required funds were obtained making it possible for FAO to conduct the campaign successfully. The specific objective of this second campaign, which aimed to support the decline of the plague while limiting damage to crops and pastures, was also achieved. Following survey operations, locust populations were controlled over more than 640 000 hectares and no incidents affecting human health and the environment were reported.

These results were obtained thanks to the implementation of large-scale aerial survey and control operations in all infested areas from two aerial bases, the locations of which changed depending on the evolving locust situation in Madagascar. From 9 October 2014 to 12 July 2015, almost 1 540 flying hours were used by two helicopters to carry out survey and control operations in infested areas. In total, during the campaign, more than 256 000 litres of pesticides and 366 kg of biopesticide (spores of the fungus Metarhizium acridum) were used for control operations, most of which (72.3 percent) during barrier treatments with Insect Growth Regulators.

As was the case with the 2013/14 campaign, the 2014/15 campaign also made a significant contribution to strengthening national capacities through specific trainings planned and provided in various technical fields (Annex 4), supplemented by on-the-spot practical training continuously delivered by experts in the field (Annex 5).

So in order not to compromise the results obtained during the first and second campaigns, it is crucial to complete the 2015/16 campaign and the Programme in order to return to a locust recession situation in June 2016 (Three-year Programme objective), thus bringing to an end a cycle of locust crises and avoiding the deterioration of an already-pronounced food insecurity situation.

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