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Locusts invade Trinidad farms

By Radhica De Silva

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A swarm of locusts hover over an agricultural estate at La Fortune Trace Moruga. * Photo:  RISHI RAGOONATH

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Ex­ten­sive spray­ing has start­ed in a bid to erad­i­cate swarms of lo­custs which have al­ready de­stroyed sev­er­al acres of crops at Mendez Vil­lage, Pe­nal.

Res­i­dent Hem­raj See­lal said the lo­custs have been feed­ing off trees in the forests since Jan­u­ary but over the past month, they have start­ed de­stroy­ing fields of peas, cas­sa­va, ochroes and bo­di.

“They eat­ing up the ochro trees. We are fac­ing a lot of loss­es right now,” See­lal said on Mon­day.

Farmer Raithraj Sook­nanan said mil­lions of lo­custs have hatched in the Pe­nal forests and were gob­bling acres of veg­e­ta­tion.

“The swarms are con­cen­trat­ed in the forests near the Bun­see Trace vol­cano. I plant five acres of land in that area and the lo­custs eat­ing out every­thing,” Sook­nanan said.

He said on Sun­day he bought an in­sec­ti­cide and sprayed his fields.

“The rain fell to­day but we still see­ing thou­sands of them on the ground. They com­ing in­to my gar­den. They eat out all the cas­sa­va, bo­di and ochroes. It is very frus­trat­ing for us,” Sook­nanan said. He not­ed a meet­ing was held with agri­cul­tur­al ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers last month and promis­es were made that the en­tire area will be sprayed.

“That was about a month ago. This looks like a new set that hatch out be­cause they very small and they are stay­ing close to the ground,” Sook­nanan said.

Farmer Randy Seenath said the Min­istry should be spray­ing con­sis­tent­ly.

“The lo­custs usu­al­ly re­main in the land for a month. They need to be spray­ing reg­u­lar­ly to make sure that peo­ple’s crops are not dam­aged,” Seenath said.

Chair­man of the Pe­nal/Debe Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion Dr Allen Sam­my said they were still do­ing an as­sess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion.

Coun­cil­lor Diptee Ram­nath said the lo­custs have been plagu­ing farm­ers for sev­er­al years but with­in re­cent times the swarms have been ap­pear­ing more fre­quent­ly.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat said the swarms were not un­usu­al.

He said spray­ing start­ed on Sun­day and will con­tin­ue.

Pe­nal is not the on­ly area in­fest­ed with lo­custs.

The Min­istry said it has been mon­i­tor­ing lo­custs in­fes­ta­tions at Pi­paro, St Mary’s Tabaquite, Mayo, New Grant, Princes Town, Man­ta­cool, Table­land, Pe­nal Rock Road, Tor­tu­ga, Mamoral, Bar­rack­pore, Moru­ga, Es­mer­al­da, Cara­po, Williamsville, Gran Cou­va, Cachipe, In­di­an Trail, Ed­ward Trace and Watts Road.

Last year, sev­er­al parts of Point Fortin al­so re­port­ed lo­custs in­fes­ta­tions.

Two types of lo­custs have been iden­ti­fied in Trinidad. These in­clude the Ce­dros lo­cust which is larg­er in size, has small­er swarms and is less de­struc­tive.

The oth­er is the Moru­ga lo­cust which is small­er in size, has larg­er swarms and is more de­struc­tive.

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