Feb. 13, 2017
The government, producers and international experts have come together in Bolivia to tackle one of the worst attacks by locusts in the last few decades. The locusts have already damaged more than 1,000 hectares of crops and have now targeted production regions in the southern Bolivian department of Santa Cruz since last week.
Bolivian President Evo Morales met with some ministers at the Palacio Quemado (headquarters of the Executive) Monday to find effective ways to stop the attacks in areas located 40km from the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, one of the largest cities in Bolivia.
Morales has called on his ministers and the Rural Development and Land ministry to prioritize and support the actions taken by the Inter-Institutional Technical Committee (ITC), given the danger the invasion of the pests would pose to the crops, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told reporters.
The attack by the flying locust (Schistocerca cancellata) began more than a week ago in a community in the municipality of Cabezas (south of the Santa Cruz Department) and, in the last hours, it has expanded to eight communities that produce maize and pastures, among others.
The situation has forced the authorities to declare municipal emergency and to provide economic support to the affected communities.
The government has decided to strengthen the fight against the crop pests, which have started migrating to other areas producing staple grains.Last week, the ITC activated a plan to attack the locusts with two small planes, which was not enough to stop their invasion, he explained.
For this reason, the Ministry of Defense will reinforce aerial fumigation operations to reduce their prevalence in maize, peanut, sorghum, bean and soybean producing communities in the municipalities of Cabezas, Charagua, El Torno and La Guardia in Santa Cruz (east). It ratified the use of airplanes belonging to the Bolivian Air Force (FAB) to join the fumigation campaign.
Meanwhile, Irish fumigation, which was summoned to help fight the pestilence by the National Association of Oilseeds Producers (ANAPO), explained priority must be given to slowing its progress through air. The locusts move in swarms destroying everything in its path, and migrate and multiply quickly, depending on the weather conditions, with wind and humidity being the determining factors.
He also suggested creating a ring and containment barrier in the municipality of Cabezas, by spraying agricultural chemicals to prevent the spread of the pests, which he said were destructive and ate whatever vegetation they could find.
The president of the eastern agricultural chamber (CAO) stressed the visit of the expert was important because it would open the possibility of doing interesting and effective work.
Experts from Argentina also arrives, a country that recently fought a plague of locusts that hit more than 200,000 hectares of agricultural land.