To combat the devastating outbreak of African migratory locusts in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has spent more than N$20 million on pesticides and equipment.
The locusts have killed several hectares of crops and livelihoods in most northern regions, causing a second epidemic.
Swarming locusts (flying swarms) are primarily invading central-north and eastern Namibia and spreading southward. Since biological pesticides are not manufactured locally, the agriculture ministry had to import them.
Mildred Kabinda, the acting executive director for agricultural development in the agriculture ministry, revealed this during an information session at Oshakati yesterday.
“We are spending a handsome amount of money on this fight. We have personnel dispatched in the field, and machinery and equipment, as well as fuel for the vehicles that are moving around the communities. All these require money. I can, however, assure you that there are more funds we have received from our stakeholders and organisations that are assisting to combat the outbreak. The government is committed to ensuring that food nutrition and security are not compromised nationally. That is why more money is being pumped in to make sure the situation is addressed,” she said.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has made available about N$7 million to the government to combat the locust outbreak. Regions affected by the swarms so far are the Zambezi, which is the hotspot of the infestation, Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, and Kavango East and West.
Kabinda said the ministry has also been notified of desert locusts that were spotted in //Kharas, Hardap and Otjozondjupa regions. She added that the locusts have caused major destruction, especially at a time when many communities are still reeling from the devastating recurring drought effects.
“Livelihoods have been lost. Locusts have caused extensive devastation in the communities and crop fields have been destroyed. The outbreak has been enormous,” said Kabinda. She urged community members to avoid burning tyres and making noise to scare away the locusts as it makes it difficult for the officials to spray the areas where the locusts are.
Farayi Zimudzi, the FAO country representative, said the locust outbreak has affected most Southern African Development Community countries.