Media Release: Swarms Locusts (grasshoppers) tearing through the Karoo
For immediate release
19 March 2022
On Monday, 14 March 2022, large swarms of locusts descended onto the Klein Karoo region. Reports of locust swarms around the Calitzdorp area was received by the Garden Route District Municipality Disaster Management Centre (GRDM DMC) on Monday, 15th March 2022. Later, it was confirmed that farmers in Kruisvallei and Buffelskloof were seeing swarms of locusts flying from west to east along the foothills of the Swartberg mountains.
Over the past year, the increase of locust activity has become apparent, which resulted in the Department of Agriculture conducting several pesticide spraying actions in the Northern- as well as the Eastern Cape and the Central Karoo. However, historically these locust plagues were confined to the Northern parts of the Western Cape as well as the Central Karoo district. Therefore, most pro-active Department Locust Officers (DLO’s) training was done in the Central Karoo District Municipal area.
The mandate to deal with locusts lies with the National Department of Agriculture due to locusts being a migratory pest.
On Wednesday, 16 March 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality Disaster Management (GRDM DM) activated its Joint Operation Centre (JOC) in response to the locust infestation. A JOC meeting was held in response to the Locust Infestation affecting parts of Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn. Various stakeholders attended the JOC, including the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality Manager of Fire Services & Disaster Management, Agri- Western Cape and the Department of Agriculture Western Cape.
The following concerns were highlighted:
- That a shortage of chemicals needed to spray the locust infestation causes significant challenges. Currently, there are only 54 000 liters of Decis (a pesticide used for locust control) available in South Africa.
- Training for locust control has been requested from the National Department of Agriculture and is expected to commence on the 23 March and will take place at a venue identified in Oudtshoorn. Both Kannaland and Oudtshoorn areas will be included in the training.
- It is challenging to locate the ‘head’ of the swarms, making it difficult to determine the direction they are travelling. Moreover, the swarms move to higher parts of the mountain, making it a challenge to control the swarms without aerial spraying.
According to Agri SA, this is one of the biggest locust swarms in years and, with the assistance of donors and the Department of Agriculture, farmers are trying everything to save crops and ensure food security.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has made R5 million available immediately to provide support to purchase personal protective equipment, sprayer pumps. pesticides and aerial spraying support to teams combating the outbreak of locust swarms in the Western Cape. Combating the locust infestation is critical for food security and rural livelihood.
Farmers from the area and organisations who would like to undergo training for locust control are requested to contact Ms Adel Supra-Vertue, Manager from the Oudtshoorn Municipality Fire & Disaster Management Services at 064 125 9227/ 044 203 7810. We also would like to request farmers and residents not to start fires as a measure to kill or deter locusts. Our Karoo areas are still arid, and these fires may cause runaway fires.
Training for Locust District Officers will take place on the 23rd of March from 09:00 am until 14:00 pm at the De Hoek Mountain resort. Interested parties are requested to send their names to Mr Lonwabo Luthango at Lonwabo@gardenroute.gov.za or to contact him by cell: 084 881 5853.
Pro-active and re-active actions are coordinated by Me Vuyokazi Mpumlwana from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Her contact detail is 084 760 8176. Other coordinators from the National Department of Locust Control are Dr Ikafeng, who can be contacted at 072 198 9882.