Rains hamper spraying of locusts

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

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