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Battle against locusts continues in northern provinces

Agriculture officers are focused on controlling and preventing locust outbreaks in five northern provinces, following the outbreaks reported in May this year.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry official, Mr Vanthieng Phommasoulin told Vientiane Times yesterday that ministry officials have generally been able to control locust outbreaks and prevent them from spreading to other districts, but they are finding it difficult to manage the voracious insects in steep mountainous terrain.

He added, more than 1,000 hectares of farmland has been affected by locust outbreaks, with over 200 hectares of crops damaged, mainly rice and sweet corn.

The five northern provinces affected are Luang Prabang, Phongsaly, Oudomxay, Huaphan and Xieng Khuang.

Meanwhile, an Agriculture and Forestry department official in Oudomxay province said they have recorded locust outbreaks in 25 villages of Xay and La districts, but currently the outbreaks have spread into Namor district.

Officials there are now endeavouring to prevent locusts from spreading further to other locations.

The first serious outbreak in Laos was reported in 2014 in the north-eastern part of the country including Phonthong and Viengkham districts of Luang Prabang province.

Outbreaks occurred in 2015 and 2016, when more districts were infected, resulting in more than 4,000 hectares of crop losses.

In May 2017, outbreaks were reported in 23 districts of five northern provinces. Numerous egg-beds were detected at the end of 2016 and more outbreaks were reported this year.

In terms of locust management in Laos, the Plant Protection Centre has developed a surveillance system to identify the egg-beds and undertake insecticide spraying operations to protect cultivated crops surrounded by egg-bed sites.

The control measures were successful in preventing losses in the treated areas but several constraints were encountered limiting their effectiveness including steep terrain reducing accessibility, and heavy rains and flooding during the control operations.

The Plant Protection Centre's plan is to improve regional locust outbreak information sharing among Laos and neighbouring countries and implementing locust bio-controls, establishment of a locust information sharing network, and strengthening national locust management teams in Laos.

Another initiative will focus on the operationalisation of the e-surveillance system for monitoring, forecasting and evaluation of control measures implanted, as well as the implementation of locust bio-controls.





By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 12, 2017)

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