Nelly Bassily | January 19, 2009
Farmers have every reason to fear locust swarms and their massive appetites. But the good news is that they do not have to stand by and wait for the pests to devour their crops – there are steps they can take to help control the pests.
Keith Cressman, a Locust Forecasting Officer for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told FRW that “the most useful activity farmers and NGOs can do is to help be our eyes and ears on the ground, and to inform the local authorities whenever they see any Desert Locusts.” Farmers who spot locusts can be of great assistance if they carefully observe the pests and report them to government plant protection and local agricultural officers. In particular, farmers should take note of:
1. the colour of the locusts
2. their behaviour (flying, egg laying, settled on the ground, on bushes or trees, etc.)
3. if they have wings (adults) or are wingless (hopper nymphs)
4. when (date) and where they are observed (place name, latitude/longitude coordinates if possible), and
5. the size of the infestation (small, medium, big) and density (low, medium, high).
Cressman also recommended that only well-trained, specialized staff from the national plant protection services carry out locust control operations by using small amounts of highly concentrated pesticides.
Whether or not you broadcast in an area currently threatened by Desert Locusts, you may wish to engage farmers with questions such as:
-How do farmers’ organizations in your area work together to combat locust swarms or other pests that cannot be controlled by individual farmers alone?
-What measures do individual farmers or farmers’ organizations in your area take to prepare for food shortages caused by natural disasters? What other measures could they take?
A Farm Radio script published in 1994 deals with the related issue of grasshoppers and non-swarming locusts (“Control Grasshopper and Locusts on Your Farm”, Package 32, Script 2, April 1994). Unlike the swarming Desert Locusts, grasshoppers and non-swarming locusts can be combated on individual farms without the use of pesticides.