Tanzania: Farmers Relief As Govt Combats Locusts Swarms

THE government has successfully controlled the swarm of desert locusts in Siha District, with farmers in the area now heaving a sigh of relief.

Siha District Commissioner, Mr Onesmo Buswelu said here yesterday that the Ministry of Agriculture threw a lot of weight in an operation to eradicate the vice through spraying by a special aircraft.

Agriculture Minister, Professor Adolf Mkenda and his Deputy Hussein Bashe were leading the operation against the insects that are increasingly being seen in huge groups in Eastern and Central Africa.

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. The desert locusts invaded Ngarenairobi Ward and some other areas in the district, but by yesterday were controlled.

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.

DC Buswelu last week called for farmers and the public to be calm and not panic as he was optimistic that the Government would solve the challenge for them. Yesterday he declared completion of the operation.

"Siha is now free from desert locusts; there is no single of them that is alive in our district. How good it is to have proper communication, for the challenge arose, growers panicked but informed us, in turn we communicated the issue to the Ministry of Agriculture that acted quickly and now the challenge is over," said Mr Buswelu.

Mr Acquiline Lameck, a sweet potato farmer at Ngarenairobi, said he was happy on how the government acted fast. He hailed the ministry for its efficient services.

Recently, huge swarms of desert locusts invaded Tanzania's northern Kilimanjaro region from Kenya, darkening horizons and causing panic among farmers, who feared destruction of their crops.

The government responded swiftly by deploying special planes to spray pesticides in the affected areas.

The huge swarms of desert locusts, believed to be triggered by the changing weather patterns, have been destroying crops across swathes of eastern and northern Africa in the past year.

Last year, Kenya saw the worst outbreak of desert locusts in history. Millions of insects swarmed into the east African nation, destroying farmland and threatening the country with devastating hunger.

The desert locust is a species of locust, a periodically swarming, shorthorned grasshopper in the family Acrididae.

They are found mainly in Africa, through Arabia and West Asia, and extending into parts of South Asia. During population surge years, they may extend into parts of western Spain.

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