Namibia is currently battling its worst recorded brown locust outbreak, and farmers in the Hardap and Karas areas in particular, are dealing with a loss of land due to the infestation.
The Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) believes that brown locusts have invaded 1.2 million hectares of agricultural fields in the Karas area alone, with the infestation already spreading to the Hardap region to the north. Both regions are still recovering from a six-year drought that ended in 2019, and the locust infestation is wreaking havoc on livelihoods and agricultural productivity.
“The locusts have started feasting on the grass and trees near our cattle outposts and very soon, if they are not brought under control, nothing will be left for our livestock,” farmer Johannes Muhenje, who is based in the Aus region, said.
FAO jumps on board
To avoid a crisis, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been at the forefront of assisting the Namibian government through MAWLR in its monitoring and surveillance activities in order to support the Ministry’s locust control efforts on the ground. This current assistance builds on previous help directed at similar outbreaks of African migratory locust and red locust in the country’s northern regions.
FAO’s “African Migratory Locust Response to Mitigate Impacts on Food Security and Livelihoods” initiative is supporting 22 trucks that carry out monitoring and control measures. This allows staff on the ground to inspect huge areas of land infected by locusts and implement control measures.
Despite the difficulties that monitoring and control personnel face in the field, such as mountainous and often inaccessible terrain in some locations, the monitoring and control teams remain committed to their objective of protecting livelihoods.
“Surveillance and control can be a challenge in such a large region such as Karas but we are trying our very best each day,” said Llewellyn Muenjo, MAWLR’s chief agricultural technician in Karas, who is leading a surveillance and control team on the ground. “We are hopeful that with strong stakeholder collaboration, such as that with the FAO, we can overcome this threat and be able to avert a full-blown disaster.”