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A locust outbreak in the Karoo has a hungry South Africa on edge

27 October 2020 12:28 PM
Tags:
Free State
Wits
Food security
Karoo
Agriculture
Food
Lester Kiewit
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
Locusts
locust infestation
locust plague
Brown Locust Outbreak
locust
locust outbreak
Frances Duncan

If the outbreak in the Karoo gets too large, it’ll travel to the maize fields in the Free State, warns Professor Frances Duncan.

While a pandemic sweeps the globe, food security in much of Africa is being threatened by a plague of biblical proportions.

Swathes of Southern Africa have been hit; about seven million people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been affected.

Now, authorities in the Eastern Cape are ringing the alarm bells while maize fields in the Free State are under threat.

Lester Kiewit asked Professor Frances Duncan (Wits' School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences) why swarms of brown locusts are destroying crops.

In a nutshell, unusual climatic conditions are driving two unrelated outbreaks.

‘Plague’ is a colloquial term meaning the locusts are huge and spread over a vast area… The locusts coming down from North Africa… there are millions of them covering several countries – it’s a plague…

Professor Frances Duncan, School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences - Wits

The brown locust outbreak in the Karoo… if it gets too large, it’ll travel to the maize fields in the Free State.

Professor Frances Duncan, School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences - Wits

The eggs can stay dormant in the soil for three to five years, waiting for the rains to come.

Professor Frances Duncan, School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences - Wits

Listen to the interview in the audio below.


27 October 2020 12:28 PM
Tags:
Free State
Wits
Food security
Karoo
Agriculture
Food
Lester Kiewit
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
Locusts
locust infestation
locust plague
Brown Locust Outbreak
locust
locust outbreak
Frances Duncan

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