Namibia: Govt Spends N$20m to Fight Locusts

Locusts continue to threaten the livelihoods of people in the Horn of Africa.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has so far spent more than N$20 million on buying pesticides and equipment to contain the devastating outbreak of the African migratory locusts in the country.

Most northern regions are battling a second outbreak of the locusts, which have destroyed many hectares of crops and livelihoods.

Mainly swarming locusts (flying swarms) are invading central-north and eastern Namibia, moving southwards. The agriculture ministry had to import the biological pesticides, as they are not produced locally.

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 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.

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