Moses Magadza

Windhoek – Members of Parliament from southern Africa who represent their national parliaments on the SADC Parliamentary Forum are urging SADC Member States to unite against African Migratory Locusts (AML) that have been reported in several countries.

Meteorologists have forecasted normal to above normal rainfall in much of the SADC Region during the 2020-2021 crop growing season. The predictions have raised hopes of bumper harvests in a region in which more than 44 million people are food insecure due to droughts and outbreaks of pests and crop diseases.

From May 2020, the remarkably destructive AML, which can wipe out crops and pasture, has been recorded in eight SADC Member States. These are Botswana; Eswatini; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; South Africa; The United Republic of Tanzania; and Zambia.

During the virtual 48th Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, South African Member of Parliament Honorable Tshitereke Baldwin Matibe, moved a motion calling for a coordinated regional response to the infestation.

He said: “The AML poses a threat to agriculture and food security in southern Africa and if not controlled, it is likely to exacerbate the food crisis, pose a danger to crop production and livestock grazing during the 20020/2021 farming season and beyond.”

Matibe acknowledged “the prompt and coordinated interventions by SADC”, which he said had been working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA).

He told the Plenary that Climate change was believed to be a major driver of a new wave of pests and diseases. He stressed that the AML were in addition to other devastating threats to regional food security. He cited fruit flies, fall armyworm, tomato leaf miner, banana fusarium wilt, banana bunchy top virus, cassava brown streak and wheat blasts disease as some of the other threats.

“The AML exacerbates the economic challenges Member States are already facing, including resource constraints posed by COVID-19 response mechanisms,” he said.

He cautioned that some pesticides used to kill the locusts “have the potential to pause adverse environmental effects on human health and ecosystems.”

The motion calls for, inter alia, close collaboration between SADC Member states and SADC and its partners to control AML; governments providing adequate financial, human and other resources to contain AML outbreaks; integrated pest management systems; sharing of best practices in the AML control; responsible use of chemical control methods against AML; and addressing climate change.

Zimbabwean Legislator Senator Tambudzani Mohadi seconded the motion, which Plenary adopted.

Ends