Locusts move out of forest, continuing their destruction

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 10:00

The locusts which hatched in the forests of Mora last November have grown into fully-fledged locusts and are now attacking agricultural estates in the southwestern peninsula.

Teams are now struggling to deal with the pests and residents say swarms are entering their yards and houses.

When Guardian Media visited the scene, thousands of locusts were seen flying in the air.

The sounds of their wings could be heard if you listened carefully.

The trunks of the trees were spattered with the insects as they crawled steadily upwards seeking to devour scrumptious leaves.

Since Guardian Media reported on the activities of the insects a few weeks ago, the swarms have extended out of Bowen Trace towards Chatham Beach Road, Cemetery Road, Kowlessar Trace, Ashford Trace and Carlyse Road.

The Locust Unit which tracks the swarms annually has been hard pressed to kill the pests because the tractor used for spraying remains down. 

Robert Reyes who owns 50 acres of lands at Chatham said the infestation of insects has destroyed fields of short crops including patchouli, lettuce, sweet peppers.

He said the only crops saved were root crops like cassava, ginger and yam.
Another farmer Sheldon Khan said usually spraying of the St Patrick area is done using a wheel tractor.

"The spraying is done before the locusts start to fly but since the wheel tractor went down they have not been able to cover all the areas. That is why we are suffering like this now, " Khan said.

He called on the Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat to provide the necessary equipment to deal with the pests.

Councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh in an interview said it would cost $14,000 to fix the tractor. He said the tractor was supposed to be fixed weeks ago. 

"Over the past few weeks, farmers have complained about the larger infestation of locusts on their farms and losses to their crops. There has been no redress from the Agriculture to Ministry to deal with locusts," Teelucksingh said.

He added, "There are three mist blowers being used and it is not making much impact on the volume of locusts. "

Teelucksingh said previously St Patrick West had two-wheel tractors but one was removed some years.

"That tractor is now broken down because of a clutch and it will cost $14,000 to fix. We also need staffing. The contracts of casual workers are not being renewed and this has caused some strain. The Minister of Agriculture has to intervene," Teelucksingh added.

Guardian Media will bring you more as this story unfolds.

 - by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.