Govt Takes Aim at Locust Invasion


The government is making a major effort to wipe out the plague of locusts that is afflicting crops in northern Laos.

The locust outbreak is expected to continue to spread and is likely to affect seven provinces. So far about 3,710 hectares of crops have been ravaged in Luang Prabang, Huaphan and Phongsaly province.

Farms in Xayaboury, Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Xieng Khuang, Vientiane and Xaysomboun provinces now face the same fate as they are in the same part of the country and likely to be the next stop in the locusts’ path.

A survey in May this year found locust eggs in 450 places in Luang Prabang, Huaphan

and Phongsaly provinces, 310 more locations than were detected in November.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has issued an order to ministries, provinces and local residents, urging them to do whatever they can to prevent the spread of and eliminate the pests.

“Provincial governors must report any sightings to the Committee on Locusts set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry,” the PM ordered.

Authorities are using four-wheel drive vehicles and travelling on foot to spray pesticides in a bid to kill locusts in outbreak zones. Villagers are using nets to catch the insects in hopes of reducing the damage to upland rice, sweetcorn and other crops.

The species found in this area is the yellow-spined bamboo locust, Ceracriskiangustsai, which had previously been found damaging crops in southern China.

These insects typically eat bamboo leaves in hillside forests but upland rice farmers have been felling scores of bamboo trees over the last few years to clear the land for rice cultivation so their crops have also become targets.

The first locust outbreak in Laos in 2014 affected the districts of Phongthong and Viengkham in Luang Prabang province.

In May this year, millions of the pests spread into 14 districts in the three northern provinces of Luang Prabang, Phongsaly and Huaphan. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry also said that locusts have recently been found in one more district.

Source: Vientiane Times