Namibia: Ohangwena Farmers Battle Locust Onslaught

Chaos erupted in the Ongenga constituency this weekend when large swarms of locusts moved into the Ohangwena region.

The locusts, which reportedly came from Angola, surprised villgers on Saturday afternoon.

Residents tried to scare the insects by yelling, clapping their hands and burning tyres.

Ongenga constituency councillor Mathews Shikongo says the affected villages included Omatangela, Eengava and Ofaitumbo.

"We were surprised yesterday afternoon when the villages turned dark, and we wondered what was happening. Before long large locusts moved in and spread out as far as the eye could see.

"The communities feared their crops would be destroyed and started beating drums, setting fires and hooting in their vehicles in an attempt to ward the locusts off. It was, however, impossible. There were just too many," he says.

Shikongo says he notified the office of the governor as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, which both assessed the situation.

"I called the governor and the agriculture ministry. They came on Sunday morning and sprayed the area and managed to kill some of the pests, as the rest flew off towards the west side of the village. The situation has calmed down, but we can still see them on the Angolan side of the border," he says.

Agriculture ministry spokesperson Magreth Kalo confirmed that the ministry was aware of the situation and sent a team to assess the situation and spray the area with insecticide.

Ohangwena governor Walde Ndevashiya has urged farmers to calm down and stop burning tyres when they see locusts.

This could cause them to spread out, which would make spraying a challenge, he said.

The team from the agriculture ministry only arrived on Sunday, Ndevashiya said.

"On Saturday I received a video clip of the invasion of locusts from our consulate in Angola, but a few hours later the councillor of Ongenga called me and informed me that the locusts had crossed the border and were moving into the region.

"We were on the ground early Sunday morning. Quite a huge area was affected, but the agriculture team killed some of them off.

"Some flew off towards the Omusati region," he said.

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