Heavy rains put a damper on spraying operations at agricultural estates near Bunsee Trace, Penal on Tuesday as farmers continue to grapple with crop losses from an infestation of locusts.
The locusts, which are about a centimetre in length, have been gobbling fields of cassava, peas, ochroes and bodi near the forests of Morne Diablo.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said spraying started since Sunday.
However, residents of Penal Rock said not all the areas are being covered.
“This morning a spraying team was here but after the rains began falling they said they could not get to the fields and they left,” farmer Raithraj Sooknanan said. Showing his fields of damaged cassava, Sooknanan said: “We need consistent spraying to make sure that our crops are saved.”
He noted that the locusts have been hatching by the thousands.
“We did our own spraying but by the morning, all of them came back,” he added.
Another farmer Deodath Ragoonanan said he was thankful that the locusts were not eating the fruits.
“I was still able to pick off the peas from the trees because all they ate were the leaves. They did not touch the peas,” he added.
He noted that a continuous spraying exercise should be organised as the locusts were migrating from one area to the other.
“We heard that there are thousands of locusts in Mendez Village as well. They have sprayed there but they have not yet reached our area,” he added.
Another farmer Siewkaran Sooknanan said he saw hundreds of locusts on his plantain trees.
“It is easy to spray them because they are feeding on the ground. We are disappointed that no spraying has taken place here as yet,” he added.
Contacted for comment, Rambharat said spraying is effective to some extent.
“This happens every year. This is the period where the locusts start to get wings and begin flying,” Rambharat said. He added that the Ministry’s personnel are out in different areas, including Bunsee Trace.
“We do not spray where there are risks to householders,” Rambharat added.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva