June 17, 2020 / 5:56 PM / 15 days ago

Namibia faces red locust invasion

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday it had detected an outbreak of red locusts in central regions of the southern African country and had sent pest control teams to the affected areas.

The large grasshopper species, which is marked by bright red wings, is common to sub-Saharan Africa and breeds abundantly under drought conditions followed by rain and rapid vegetation growth.

The ministry said the locusts were flying in from Botswana and Zambia. Videos shared by the ministry showed thick clouds of insects flying low over crop fields and farmland in the central Otjozondjupa region.

Namibian officials said it was too early to link the infestation to locust swarms wreaking havoc in East Africa since last year in a migration that started in the Middle East, and has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry spokesperson Margaret Kalo told Reuters details of the extent of the damage caused by the locusts were not available at this stage.

The summer harvesting season has been completed but the red locusts pose a serious threat to winter crops such as wheat and barley as well as livestock grazing areas, she said.

The latest red locust invasion follows a similar outbreak in February in the Zambezi region, named after Africa’s fourth largest river, which overlaps parts of Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa, Editing by Mfuneko Toyana and Gareth Jones

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