Govt in joint EAC locust control bid

26Feb 2021
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Govt in joint EAC locust control bid

THE government is seeking a coordinated response with Kenya to tame swarms of locusts entering the northern regions from the neighbouring country.

Agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda said it will be a waste of time and resources for Tanzania to continue spraying the invasive pests on its territory without the same being done where they come from.

Speaking during a visit to affected areas in Kilimanjaro region on Wednesday, the minister said a joint response was necessary to maintain maximum efforts in conducting the necessary survey and control operations.

“My ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the East Africa Cooperation  seek to reach out to the Kenyan authorities so that both countries conduct separate control operations but in a coordinated manner,” he said.

The government had started aerial spraying operations to kill the pests in affected districts of Siha in Kilimanjaro and Longido in Arusha region.

“Despite the fact that we have successfully managed to control the locusts, a coordinated response is still important to eradicate the problem,” he said, noting that lasting effectiveness of Tanzania’s response will be jeopardized if similar measures aren’t pursued on the other side..

He said the locust swarms had caused panic among farmers and herders in Siha and Longido districts, with vegetation and crops at risk of being decimated by large groups of locusts.

On Tuesday, the government unveiled a plan to start spraying the desert locusts, devouring crops in Longido and Simanjiro districts in Arusha and Manyara regions respectively.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said around mid-January that swarms of locusts were spreading from northern Kenya and had reached Taita Taveta County, thus capable of reaching Tanzania by early February.

In its latest update, FAO said swarms could also enter South Sudan and Uganda, after the swarms were spotted in some parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea.

“All countries should maintain maximum efforts in conducting the necessary survey and control operations to reduce migration and breeding,” the UN agency advised.

Last week, FAO reported immature swarms in Kenya’s northern and central counties, and in Kilifi County in the upper Coast region.

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