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Air Force joins battle against invading locusts

Air Force joins battle against invading locusts

Niël Terblanché

 

THE battle against invading swarms of red locusts has been stepped up in intensity and effectiveness after the Namibian Air Force joined the fight.

 

Since the first swarms of the flying insects was reported in August, more than 500 hectares of grazing land in the Zambezi Region have been destroyed by the insects.

 

It has been reported that the swarms are steadily moving west and will soon reach the grazing areas of the two Kavango regions.

 

The Namibian Air Force entered the battle more than two weeks ago and since then, vast areas of the Zambezi Region have been sprayed with insecticide by an aircraft fitted with special tanks.

 

 

Lietenant Colonel Petrus Shilumbu said the operation started on 11 October over the grasslands of the Zambezi Region.

 

He added that the operation will soon be extended to other affected areas as the swarm of migrating insects move westward.

 

The Governor of the Zambezi Region, Lawrence Sampofu, joined the Air Force crew during one such spraying operation at the Bukalo Village.

 

Afterwards, the effectiveness of the insecticide was inspected on the ground by members of the Air Force and the regional governor.

 

Governor Sampofu said that more than 4 000 hectares of grassland have been sprayed with insecticide with the help of the aircraft from the Namibian Defence Force.

 

The operation to spray the red locusts with the Y-12 aircraft from the air force started in the area of the Itomba Village on 11 October and is a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Shilumbu said the joint operation is of the utmost importance to help the local residents save as much grazing land as possible.

 

Earlier in October, the areas that are negatively impacted by the swarms of insects were visited by agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein to make a personal assessment of the damage caused by the insects.

 

The minister and the regional governor visited the areas of Muzi, Namiyundu, Ivilivizi, Lusese, Ihaha, Nakabolelwa, Masikili, Malindi, Ibbu, Ngala, Muyako, Mahundu, Machita, Kikiya, Kanono, Muketela, Linyanti, Chinchimani, and Kapani and afterward they described the destruction wreaked by the locusts as significant.

 

The agriculture minister announced that the government will have to spend at least N$30 million to contain and get rid of the swarms of locusts.

 

At the time of the visit, Schlettwein said that the teams of officials that are tasked to spray insecticide when the insects are at rest are faced with having to deal with vast areas on foot.

 

Several vehicles and spraying equipment have been availed to the officials to get them to and from the areas where the insects are.

 

The aircraft from the Air Force and the agriculture officials who are working on the ground have to do their missions early in the mornings and late in the afternoons when the insects have landed and are less active.

 

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