MADAGASCAR / LOCUSTS

21-Jun-2011 00:03:04
The FAO said Tuesday that a current buildup of locust populations in southwestern Madagascar could turn into a plague and seriously endanger the livelihoods of 13 million people unless a new campaign is launched to contain the crop-devouring insects. FAO
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Description
STORY: MADAGASCAR / LOCUSTS
TRT: 3.04
SOURCE: FAO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: MALAGASY / FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: MAY -JUNE 2011, NATIONAL LOCUST CENTRE AIRBASE, BETROKA, MADAGASCAR


SHOTLIST


1. Wide shot, Helicopter at camp site
2. Various shots, woman prepares food
3. Various shots, refuelling and loading pesticides
4. Wide shot, helicopter takes off
5. Aerials from Helicopter
6. Med shot, interior helicopter
7. Various shots, aerial views
8. SOUNDBITE (French)Sebastien Detan, pilot:
“On a searching day, we start in the morning after we have already chosen a circuit in the affected location. We will be trying to find out as much as possible about the larvae, the hoppers, the swarms, everything that concerns the locusts.”
9. Helicopter and locust swarm from ground
8. Wide shot, locust swarm from helicopter
9. Various shots, locust swarms from ground
10. SOUNDBITE (Malagasy) Guillaume Rakotoarivony, Area Manager CAN, Ambarata:
“It is difficult for the helicopter to spread insecticides that can pollute the village. We are then obliged to intervene on the ground to kill the locusts around the village. FAO and CNA interventions and complementary in the fight against locusts.”
11. Wide shot, car on ground
12. Close up, grasshoppers on ground
13. Various shots, ground spraying operations
14. SOUNDBITE (Malagasy) Jacky Varina, Farmer Ambarata:
“Before there was no fight against locusts. Now you are here and fighting against them. The locusts are dying and our rice is saved.”
15. Various shots, grain threshing.


STORYLINE:


They could be on a camping holiday, but these cooks are in the front line battle against Madagascar’s devastating pests. This is the moveable base camp for a co-ordinated campaign to search and eliminate a plague that was first mentioned in the Bible.

Since August 2010 FAO, together with the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and USAID has been helping the Malagasy Locust Control Centre (CNA) contain populations of Malagasy Migratory Locusts following an upsurge in March of last year.

After training and formation of national teams, anti-locust operations were concentrated in the months from October 2010 to April 2011, corresponding to the rainy season and the locust breeding period. Some 200 000 hectares (ha) infested by locusts were sprayed by helicopter while ground-based control measures were deployed over 27 000 ha and are continuing.

SOUNDBITE ( )Sebastien Detan, pilot:
“On a searching day, we start in the morning after we have already chosen a circuit in the affected location. We will be trying to find out as much as possible about the larvae, the hoppers, the swarms, everything that concerns the locusts.”

The indigenous Migratory Locusts typically live on their own causing little damage. But if their population density hits a certain threshold they transform, moving first in synchronized hopper bands along the ground and as adults they swarm on mass and wreak havoc on crops. In one day, a single locust can devour roughly its own weight, about 2 grams. 500,000 locusts, a relatively small part of an average swarm, eat the same amount of food a day as about 2,500 people.

SOUNDBITE ( ) Guillaume Rakotoarivony, Area Manager CAN, Ambarata:
“It is difficult for the helicopter to spread insecticides that can pollute the village. We are then obliged to intervene on the ground to kill the locusts around the village. FAO and CNA interventions and complementary in the fight against locusts.”

In addition to conventional pesticides, a biopesticide based on a fungus that is lethal to locusts and grasshoppers, was used for the first time on a large scale.

While such efforts prevented the 2010 locust upsurge escalating into a plague, with disastrous consequences on crops and livelihoods, weather and ecological conditions in the first half of this year triggered a renewed buildup of locust populations over large parts of south-western Madagascar.

Farmers are relieved when they see the helicopters flying over and the ground crews arriving.

SOUNDBITE ( ) Jacky Varina, Farmer Ambarata:
“Before there was no fight against locusts. Now you are here and fighting against them.The locusts are dying and our rice is saved.”

Often Malagasy farmers did not even sow their crops when there were locusts swarming as they knew their harvest would be destroyed.

Funds are urgently needed to launch a new campaign to coincide with the next rain and breeding period (November 2011-May 2012), so farmers can continue to plant in confidence knowing that the battle against the locusts will continue.
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