Brown locust infestation cause havoc in southern Namibia

Millions of hectares of grazing have so far been decimated by devastating infestations of brown locust (Locustana pardalina) in southern Namibia.

Brown locust infestation cause havoc in southern Namibia
Farmers in Namibia are still battling extensive outbreaks of brown locusts, which started in late 2021.
Photo: Nadia Nel

Millions of hectares of grazing have so far been decimated by devastating infestations of brown locust (Locustana pardalina) in southern Namibia.

The current outbreaks stretch from Karasburg near the South African border, to Mariental in central Namibia.

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According to Marlize Nel, who farms with her husband Gerhardus some 68 km from Keetmanshoop in the direction of Aroab, the veld looked as if it had been destroyed in a wildfire after the immense swarms of locusts in the pedestrian as well as flyer stages moved through it.

“The swarms are incredibly big and some of them are kilometers long and wide. The density of the insects is so bad that road visibility is sometimes limited to a few metres in front of a vehicle. The farmers and landowners in our area have been fighting the locusts since late 2021, but to no avail,” she told Farmer’s Weekly.

Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, CropLife SA’s stewardship manager, said it was highly unlikely that the Namibian outbreak was directly connected to the devastating outbreaks in the adjoining parts of South Africa during the 2021/22 season.

According to him, that country mostly maintained its own locust populations.

“I am concerned that the current occurrence of locusts in our neighboring country could continue until the middle of May 2022, considering the minimum and maximum temperatures expected until then.

“I am also worried about significant outbreaks in the coming summer given the high soil moisture levels in southern Namibia,” Verdoorn added.

It was therefore vitally important that all role players, including the Namibian government, implemented sufficient precautionary measures to combat and control summer outbreaks. It was simply too late to start making plans when the first locusts were detected.

“Farmers and landowners should make sure that the equipment that will be needed is in a good working condition, and it is the state’s responsibility to ensure adequate supplies of chemicals.

“There are three suppliers of the chemicals needed for locust management based in Namibia. I would advise the state and other interested parties to procure chemicals timeously,” said Verdoorn.

 

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.