Northern provinces assess efforts to control locust outbreak
Five northern provinces recently reported on their efforts to prevent and control locust outbreaks in the 2015-16 fiscal year, and announced plans to prevent a further invasion this year.
The five provinces are Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Oudomxay and Phongsaly.
More than 4,000 hectares in 23 districts of the provinces were invaded by locusts, with Huaphan province being the worst affected.
According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry at its annual meeting in Vientiane at the end of last year, the authorities encouraged local people to search for and destroy locust eggs, and allocated 3.5 billion kip to combat the pests in 2016.
The authorities will again pursue locust prevention and control activities this year.
They will partner with other sectors to report on locust invasions in the five northern provinces, for which they have allocated about 11 billion kip.
More generally, the authorities will work to combat and prevent animal diseases and monitor for extreme weather events.
They will continue with weather forecast system development and teach officials about ways to eradicate, control, and use equipment to get rid of locusts.
It is believed locusts have increased in number because of changes in the weather, which created favourable breeding conditions.
In Luang Prabang province about 980 hectares of crops owned by 3,900 people in 15 villages of Phonthong district were affected, while more than 6,700 hectares of rice and sweetcorn were damaged in Viengkham district in 2015.
Several hectares of crops in Viengkham district were also damaged by mice.
When locusts continued to infest farmland, local authorities and others involved used 50 machines provided by China to spray the affected areas with insecticide.
They sprayed 78 hectares of crops and continued until they drove the locusts out.
District officials teamed up with personnel from central and provincial agriculture and forestry departments and other experts in a bid to rid the area of the ravaging insects.
The locusts were first spotted in Viengkham district in March 2015 and then quickly spread to fields in Phonthong district.
Locusts also invaded crops in Phonthong district in 2014 but the damage was contained to a limited area and about 3,000kg of the insects were captured.
Many of them were eaten by the local populace while others were used to make fertiliser.
By Siladda Souliyong
(Latest Update February 9, 2017)