Tanzania: Govt to Widen Fight Against Desert Locusts

(file photo).

THE government will buy aircrafts to spray against and control gigantic new desert locust swarms that are hitting the Eastern and Central Africa region, threatening millions with hunger.

The collection of short-horned grasshoppers that have phases in invading places have been a huge hazard in different parts of the country such as Mwanga and Siha districts in Kilimanjaro region, Simanjiro in Manyara region and Longido District in Arusha region.

It was said that by yesterday the insects had invaded Ngarenairobi Ward in Siha District.

In response to the new invasion of locusts, the Minister for Agriculture, Professor Adolf Mkenda says in this financial year the government will set aside the funds for purchasing a new aircraft and repairing the existing plane.

"We will set aside a budget to buy aircrafts this year, so as to make easy and quick followup of the desert locusts, quelea quelea and other destructive insects that fly and move from place to place. We will have in place the right resources to contain the situation in future," said Professor Mkenda.

The minister said that so far areas that were invaded by the locusts in Kenya are being controlled. Ministries responsible for agriculture in the two countries have been in constant communication and join efforts in dealing with the challenge.

"We are controlling them (desert locusts). We do not like to spray poisonous material in residential areas, so we will do that early in the morning as the aircraft will be returning. I beseech the public not to eat these insects," advised Professor Mkenda.

Apart from using the aircraft, some agricultural experts will be moving around to spray against the locusts. The government is still making efforts to contain the locusts that have of late not stayed in one area for long periods.

In the past few days, light to moderate rains fell in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia that could be sufficient to allow the swarms present in both countries to mature and eventually lay eggs, which would give rise to another generation of breeding.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), small swarms moved from southern Kenya to northeast Tanzania, where they were reported. One aircraft was deployed and control operations were underway.

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, said that the locusts have affected much of the Longido and Simanjiro districts but they have been somehow contained now.

"We have been to Longido and Simanjiro; our experts have done a great job. We can say that the situation is not bad as of now. We have directed the experts to remain in the said areas," said Mr Bashe.

Siha District Commissioner (DC), Mr Onesmo Buswelu, urged the public not to panic with the invasion of the desert locusts, bearing in mind that it is an agricultural season.

They should rest assured that the government will play well its part in getting rid of them.

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