portland independent media center  
images audio video
feature article reporting global

economic justice | environment | imperialism & war

Plague Locusts poised to destroy Sahelian Harvest

In an example of really bad timing, this years locust plague matures and moves south right after harvest time for millions of subsistence farmers on the Sahel, a disaster which was predictable, since the first signs of the plague emerged during last years torrential rain storms, that nearly flooded out the region, and created ideal locust plague conditions. This plague which in its first months, has already been described as worse than the worst year of the last plague in the 1980s, which is a pretty bad sign, since the current plague has only begun.

The plague locusts produced by last years exceptional rains over the Sahel (bordering the southern Sahara Desert) are now poised to invade the crop producing regions with their arrival timed to coincide with the approach of harvest for millions of subsistence farmers in the area. In Senegal, millions of locusts landed several weeks ago, and each can lay up to 90 eggs three times, creating many hundreds of millions of hopper larvae, which then take to the wing after about three weeks. There are reports that Senagalese farmers are waging 'hand to hand combat' against the insects using hoes and brushes and given that the hoppers can only jump a short distance they are also attempting corral them into large ditches and then bury them alive. Harvest time arrives in October, and given the three week maturation cycle of the insects, and then their repeated heavy multiplication millions of locusts could become hundreds of millions and then billions in a very short time.

[ Other articles by Brent Herbert ]