Locusts envelop Madagascar capital

Jose Castro – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Antanarivo, Madagascar (4E) – Antanarivo, the capital of Madagascar, was the site of a phenomenon that has been described in the Bible.

On Thursday, the bustling metropolis was swarmed by billions of locusts, leaving the sky dark, plants eaten away and many praying that the end of the world may be near.

While there have been numerous attacks before, this is considered the largest on record, affecting an area the size of Japan. The area is of arable plantations of rice and maize. The increasing numbers have been caused by government neglect and inaction, many believe.

The recent swarm came as clouds, whizzing through the African nation’s capital after a heat wave had affected the locust swarm’s usual habitat. According to Ronald Miller, a missionary working in the country, “It reminds us of the ten plagues of Egypt.”

The locust swarm had covered the skyline and was hovering over the main streets of the capital. Thousands flew straight to the ground and ended up dead, leaving millions of locusts on the streets and every where else.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the current locust plague had been in the country since 2012. T

he government had already planned a three year emergency plan starting last September 2013. This was in response to the locusts affecting the food security of the country at the time. Now into the second year of the plan, the pests have been eradicated in about 4,600 miles of agricultural land. The whole locust eradication plan is to cost the country around $41 million.

A previous report by the Washington Post said, “Locust infestations, if untreated could wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands – and with it a family’s ability to provide for itself.”

The peculiar way of controlling the locust infestations is the use of biopesticides, in order to preserve the Madagascar ecosystem. The move is to control the locust population to prevent the population from going hungry. The main issue though is that local farmers, desperate to protect their crops, have resorted to starting fires as well as the use of insecticides to fight off the swarms, to no avail.

The desperation has made some of the population take extraordinary measures. One of them, 13 year old Anthonib Razafinahatatra said, “We are going to give them to the chickens to eat, if the chickens don’t die, we’ll eat them too.”

Jean Ramananarivo, a resident of the capital, commented, “I am very surprised at the number of these crickets which invade the city. The state is not control of the situation.”

The same FAO report indicated that, “Locust infestations, if untreated, could wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands – and with it a family’s ability to provide for itself.”

Teams from the government’s anti-locust agency in cooperation with the United Nations have been conducting sorties for the past several months to contain the swarms through concerted aerial efforts of spraying insecticide through air drops and fly overs.

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