Santam, South Africa’s largest general insurer,donated R100 000 to the Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation to mobilise aerial assistance in the Northern Cape to control large-scale locust outbreaks.
The ongoing locust invasion of veld and farmland in South Africa, by bands of wingless nymphs, is continuing to wreak havoc on a wide area in the vicinity of Vosburg, Van Wyksvlei, Prieska, Marydale, Victoria West, and Hopetown. The outbreak is attributed to changes in weather patterns, including warm weather, excellent veld regrowth, and humid conditions.
Santam’s donation will help Agri SA to scale up its locust combatting efforts to better mitigate the impact. Daniel Stevens, Head of Santam Agriculture, says that the affected areas are too big and the current equipment too insubstantial to fight the locust plague effectively. Locusts are causing severe damage to the veld, and, without urgent aerial support, the looming crisis will have dire consequences for the livelihoods of farmers, their workers, and rural economies.
The contribution will help to prevent further damage to crops and the destruction of livestock pastures. Spraying the locust populations requires covering more than 4 000 hectares of land across the Northern Cape; the farmers’ capacity to fight the swarms is severely under pressure due to the extent of the outbreaks in the province.
Stevens adds, “Through this initiative, we can mitigate job losses and protect food security. We urgently call on the private sector to contribute financially and assist in putting plans in place to eradicate the locust swarms. This is a public-private partnership in practice.
“The key to successful eradication is to destroy the locusts before they turn into fledglings. Locusts can cover more than 100 km per day once they develop wings, making them difficult to track and destroy. This is a great concern for organised agriculture and might result in a disaster should locusts fly into irrigation and crop areas in other provinces, such as the Free State, North West, and Eastern Cape.”
Santam is working closely with Agri SA to control the hoppers in the affected arrears to reduce the size of the population. Any sightings must be reported as soon as possible to the local district locust officer or the Department of Agriculture.
For more information on Agri visit www.santam.co.za