News / Africa

Locust Infest More of Madagascar

 Betroka Region, Southern Madagascar - A dense swarm of locusts as seen during spraying operations, May 29, 2011. ©FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba
Betroka Region, Southern Madagascar - A dense swarm of locusts as seen during spraying operations, May 29, 2011. ©FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on locust plague in Madagascar

TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
The locust plague in Madagascar is getting much worse. More than half the nation is now infested. The U.N. says time is rapidly running out to bring the voracious insects under control.

The Food and Agriculture Organization began issuing warnings about migratory locusts in Madagascar in August of last year. It appealed for funds for control programs. But funding fell short and control programs stopped. The locusts did not. Locusts are usually found in southwestern Madagascar. But when conditions are right – like the rainy season – their population can soar.

This past March, the FAO announced the country was in the midst of a plague. It said at least 22 million dollars was needed by July. However, emergency appeals are described as “severely underfunded.” 

FAO Locust Control Officer Annie Monard said that conditions could deteriorate sharply in the coming months.

“We think that at the end of the winter season – the cool and dry season -- locust infestations will be present on two-thirds of the island.”

The locusts wipe out any natural vegetation in their path, as well rice and maize crops. The FAO says rice and maize losses range from 40 to 100 percent on many plots.

“The plague will of course have a big impact on the cereal production. [It] will also have an impact on pastures. So that means that – not this year, but probably next year – there will also be an impact on the cattle – on the health of the cattle,” she said.

She said that food security and livelihoods of 13 million people are at stake. That’s 60 percent of the population.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said the 22 million dollars is needed now so a locust control program can be in place by September. That’s when the next cropping season begins. A complete three-year program -- to bring the locusts into what’s called a recession -- will cost more than 41-million dollars.

“If untreated, it could last for several years and be more and more important,” she said.

Regular control programs, she said, easily could have prevented the plague from ever happening. Despite a problem that’s now literally of biblical proportions, Monard said donors have been slow to respond.

“I think because the world is not so rich. There are a lot of other priorities. Also I think the current political situation in Madagascar is a bit difficult to assess for the donors and they could be a bit reluctant to invest. Yes, the plague will be stopped, of course. But after that, will the government be able to maintain a locust preventive strategy? So that is also a question that donors have.”

Madagascar has been in a political deadlock for the past four years as rivals battle for the presidency. Elections, which had been scheduled for July 24th, have been postponed until August 23rd.  The United States has called on leaders to return the country to true democratic rule through free and fair elections.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid