Malawi has a high concentration of red locust in the southern region and if left unchecked until the next rainy season, it may develop and affect field crops, a study has warned.
The study conducted in March this year, indicates that the locust is highly concentrated in the Lake Chirwa and Chiuta plains mainly in areas far from residential and farming areas where it continues to breed.
“The situation is not critical at the moment because the locust is just developing but an immediate action can save the situation because if left until this year’s first rains, it may degenerate and destroy newly grown crops,” cautioned Ken Ndalama, country representative for International Red Locust Control Organization for Southern and Central Africa (IRLCO-CSA) who conducted the survey in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
He revealed that IRLCO-CSA together with the Agriculture Ministry intends to carry out an immediate intervention to counter the locust.
Said Ndalama; “The ministry has assured us that it has already stocked pesticides such as Green muscle and Metalizium which are environmental friendly chemicals for the exercise to be undertaken soon.”
Asked why it has taken too long before the organization had taken any action since the release of the report, Ndalama said; “The exercise delayed because the helicopter we use in spraying the chemicals was in South Africa for repairs and at some point it was in Tanzania to attend to some locust related issues.”
The Lake Chilwa- Chiuta Plains were identified by IRLCO-CSA as outbreak areas of the Red Locust in Malawi and Mozambique.
Other areas in the south of the Sahara affected by red locust include Wembere plains, Malagarasi basin, Iku-Katavi plains and Rukwa valley in Tanzania, Mweru wa Ntipa and Kafue flats in Zambia and Buzi-Gorongosa plains in Mozambique.