Swarms of African migratory locusts continue to ravage crops in the Gumare area ahead of harvest season.
Since the outbreak of the locusts in mid February, 27 fields have been affected, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food resources has confirmed.
Public Relations Officer in the Department of Crop Production in Maun, Clifford Molefe, confirmed the locust outbreak and noted that several fields were affected. “The damage is not so bad, but they have disturbed some crops.”
The locust swarms are concentrated in fields surrounding Gumare village, including Mothokakobo, Qurube and Samotshoka.
“Initially the locusts were reported in Qurube, that is where the outbreak started. Then seven fields were affected.”
Molefe however noted that the swarms are more concentrated in the grassland, albeit closer to the fields.
“The fields in question are closer to the grassland and their crops are nearing maturity. These are farms which are not dependent on the rain but on the river because they are somewhat a part of the delta,” says Molefe.
He added that since these pests could form swarms that can be highly dense and can migrate and cover long distances, the ministry is working hard to keep them under control.
“We have the situation under control and have been spraying on the fields and grassland. We are however using eco-friendly sprays with very minimal chemicals that kills only on contact. We also use mist blowers” Molefe further explained.
The grassland are said to be home to swarms of locust and Molefe says the numbers appear to have multiplied.
Locusts are known to multiply in size and within a very short period of time but have a short life span of about five months, but Molefe stressed that if left unchecked they can leave devastating damage to crops and spiral out of control.
Around Gumare area, the current swarms are said to be covering 940 hectares of land but mostly in grassland.
Locusts, especially the desert type, are considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world.
According to FAO, a small swarm of locusts can consume food enough for 35,000 people, hence they are considered a threat to food security in Africa.
Ever since the beginning of 2020, there has been an outcry about outbreaks of locusts in other African countries especially in East Africa, however Botswana is said to be the first to report such an outbreak within the SADC region.