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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on locusts:

The locust species in our story from Madagascar is the Malagasy migratory locust, with the scientific name Locusta migratoria capito. But this species of locust does not always swarm. In southwest Madagascar, they typically live on their own as individuals.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), once locust populations reach a certain number, a locust’s body chemistry changes. It undergoes a behavioural, ecological and physiological transformation.

Individual locusts then start to congregate and move in swarms. They travel to find new sources of food that can support their numbers and needs for breeding. Their bodies change, allowing them to fly over greater distances − up to 100 kilometres a day. Their digestive systems change in order to accommodate a wider range of vegetation and crops.

A single locust can consume roughly its own weight in food every day − about two grams. FAO states that one tonne of locusts, a very small part of an average swarm, eats the same amount of food as 2,500 people.
While the cost of the control operation is estimated at 15 million American dollars, experience shows that it is worth it. Countries in North and northwest Africa that did not control locust populations when the swarms started in 2003 spent about 400 million American dollars to bring them under control.

Farmers and NGOs can inform government plant protection and local agricultural officers if they spot locusts. This can help greatly prevention. Farmers should take note of:
1. the colour of the locusts
2. their behaviour (flying, egg laying, settled on the ground, on bushes or trees, etc.)
3. if they have wings (adults) or are wingless (hopper nymphs)
4. when (date) and where they are observed (place name, latitude/longitude coordinates if possible)
5. the size of the infestation (small, medium, big) and density (low, medium, high)

You can find more information about locusts in French here: http://www.cirad.mg/fr/acrido.php
And here are some useful references in English:
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migratory_locust
-http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts-CCA/en/1010/1018/1078/index.html
-http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100525202301.htm

Farm Radio Weekly has reported on locust outbreaks before. For example:
-Locusts destroy crops and pastures in Kenya, threaten farm lands in Sudan (FRW #1, December 2007) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2007/12/03/east-africa-locusts-destroy-crops-and-pastures-in-kenya-threaten-farm-lands-in-sudan-various-un-sources/
This story looked at biological control of locusts:
-Biological pesticide halts locust invasion (FRW #76, August 2009)

A Farm Radio International script published in 1994 deals with the related issue of grasshoppers and non-swarming locusts (“Control Grasshopper and Locusts on Your Farm,”Package 32, Script 2, April 1994). Unlike the swarming Migratory locusts, grasshoppers and non-swarming locusts can be combated on individual farms without the use of pesticides.

If you broadcast in an area that is, or may be, directly affected by the outbreak, you could consider producing a show to highlight the issues:
-If possible, send reporters to speak with people in affected areas. Find out how they are affected and what they are doing to cope
-Keep in touch with relevant authorities and NGOs for accurate and up-to-date information on the situation, and take note of any support services available to those who are affected

If you broadcast in an area that is unlikely to be directly affected by the current outbreak:
-Consider informing your listeners about the pest outbreak
-Broadcast information on how to control the pest or other pests that pose a threat to farmers in the area

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