THE recent outbreak of the African migratory locusts in the Zambezi region threatens to disrupt the ploughing season in progress, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has warned.
In early August, the Zambezi region was hit by an outbreak of locusts which has affected farmers in all eight constituencies.
The Zambezi regional chief agricultural scientific officer Violet Simaata said during a donation from the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) of 1000 litres of pesticide valued at N$150 000 to the ministry last week the locust outbreak will affect households and national food security this year.
“We have since embarked on a spraying campaign to control the pest. The total number of affected area is 400 216 hectares. Currently river field crop farmers are under threat and many farmers have re-planted up to three times. Given the current locust outbreak, farmers are now reluctant to re-plant and this may have a negative impact on food security.
“This has also affected the current dryland crop production programme (DCPP) as many farmers were reluctant to pay for ploughing services,” she said.
According to Simaata through collaboration with the Namibian Air Force, a total of 3 719 hectares of land has been sprayed through aerial spraying which targets open and large swarms only.
“Out of the 400 216 hectares infested with locusts and we have sprayed14 251 hectares to date. The epicentre has changed to Old Masokotwani, Masokotwani, Linyanti, Kapani, Lake Liambezi, Chinchimani and the two types (AML and Red locust) are found in the current epicentre. We have received reports that the flood plain where the population has decreased have begun to report locusts emerging,” she said.
Despite the locust outbreak being a threat to food security, many farmers in the region are eagerly busy ploughing in the hope to have a bumper harvest next year, and the region has received good rains over the past months.
The Namibian spoke to some of the crop farmers who had already started ploughing in November. They noted that this ploughing season looks very promising because it is accompanied by good rains.
“I am very happy as a farmer this year because this ploughing season will reap great results. So far I have covered 15 hectares of maize and I am still planning to plough pearl millet, and sorghum. The rain looks very promising and I will start weeding as from next week,” said Mary Kabuku from Masida area in the Kongola constituency.
Another farmer Innocent Mahoto in the Kanono area said he has prepared 10 hectares for maize, and is also planning to grow mahangu and sorghum this season.
“I am hopeful that we will receive more rains during this ploughing season because I am planning to plant on a big scale,” he said.