World, Africa

Tanzania: Locusts invade northern region, damage crops

East African country deploys planes to spray pesticides, urges people not to eat insects

Kizito Makoye   | 24.02.2021
Tanzania: Locusts invade northern region, damage crops

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania

Huge swarms of desert locusts have invaded Tanzania’s northern Kilimanjaro region from Kenya, darkening horizons and causing panic among farmers, who fear destruction of their crops, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Onesmo Biswelu, a district commissioner, said swarms of locusts have been invading large-scale plantations at the Ngare Nairobi ward in Siha district since Tuesday evening.

However, the government swiftly deployed special planes to spray pesticides in the affected areas, Biswelu said.

“We have managed to contain them, and destruction to crops is minimal,” the commissioner told Anadolu Agency.

Huge swarms of desert locusts, believed to be triggered by the changing weather patterns, have been destroying crops across swathes of eastern and northern Africa in the past year.

Last year, Kenya saw the worst outbreak of desert locusts in history. Millions of insects swarmed into the east African nation, destroying farmland and threatening the country with devastating hunger.

Adolf Mkenda, Tanzania’s minister for agriculture and cooperatives, said agricultural experts are spraying pesticides with two planes to combat the destructive pests.

“People have no reason to panic, this problem is under control. We will get rid of all these locusts,” Mkenda said Wednesday.

The minister said authorities are closely monitoring the trend of locusts’ infestation and will accordingly take necessary actions.

The minister said huge swathes of the affected areas have already been sprayed with pesticides, which according to experts will start taking effect between 24 to 72 hours.

He warned local residents to avoid touching or eating any falling insects since they may contain poisonous substances.

Meanwhile, agricultural experts have been deployed in Longido and Simanjiro districts in the neighboring northern Arusha region to spray pesticides.

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