FAO in Laos

Ministry to prevent locust outbreak


(Vientiane Times) Vientiane. - The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has formulated measures to prevent and control yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreaks after thousands hectares of crops in northern provinces were destroyed.

The yellow-spined bamboo locust army destroyed more than 4,000 hectares of corn, job-tear and upland rice cultivation in six districts in Luang Prabang, Phongsaly and Huaphan provinces, the Plant Protection Centre Director, Mr Syriphonh Phithaksoun reported at the national ad hoc committee meeting on the outbreak of yellow-spined bamboo locusts in Vientiane on Friday.

The meeting was chaired by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phet Phomphiphak supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The centre expects at the beginning of next year the numbers of yellow-spined bamboo locusts will increase about 10 percent and would affect about 7,500 hectares of corn and upland rice cultivation, Mr Syriphonh said.

To prevent and control the outbreak, the centre has formulated three measures, he added.

Plan A states, the centre in cooperation with provincial authorities and relevant sectors will spray bio-pesticide on the ground and rent helicopters to spray bio-pesticides in the air killing the bugs in 26 target areas between April and May, then in August next year bio-pesticides will be sprayed again to kill the bigger ones by helicoter.

This plan is expected to use around US$2.48 million for implementation and would be middle to highly effective, Mr Syriphonh said.

For plan B, the centre proposes to spray bio-pesticide to kill small yellow-spined bamboo locusts on the ground between April and May, then in August next year spray the bio-pesticides in the air.

This plan is expected to spend around US$1.67 million of funds for implementation but would be less effective.

"As a third option, we could kill small yellow-spined bamboo locusts by spraying bio-pesticide on the land between April and May," said Mr Syriphonh.

This method would spend about US$2.55 million in 140 target areas but would be least effective, he added.

Mr Syriphonh confirmed that spraying bio-pesticide would not affect human and animal health.

"We choose to kill yellow-spined bamboo locusts during this period as they are still young," he said.

Last yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreak in Laos began in October, 2014 in Phonthong district, Luang Prabang province spreading to other areas in the province and Phongsaly and Huaphan, Mr Syriphonh said.

Government sectors, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in cooperation with provincial authorities and relevant sectors, have enhanced prevention and control of outbreaks using traditional methods and spraying bio-pesticide, but authorities didn't find this very effective.

Previously, the ministry received 150 units of pesticide from China and some more bio-pesticide from other countries, but the ministry still needs more assistance for preventing a new outbreak.