Northern Lao provinces fighting locust invasion

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Authorities and local people in five northern provinces are waging war on a locust invasion by searching for their eggs and spraying them with chemicals.

Yellow-spined bamboo locusts or their eggs have been found among more than 5,000 hectares of crops in the provinces of Luang Prabang, Huaphan, Phongsaly, Xieng Khuang and Oudomxay.

Most of the eggs have been found in 183 places in 131 villages in seven districts of Luang Prabang, scattered among 1,762 hectares of crops.

Local authorities and villagers have been digging for egg cases and have found 192kg, according to a report from the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

In Huaphan, eggs have been found in 216 places in 107 villages of eight districts, among 1,454 hectares of crops. Teams searching for eggs have collected 490kg of egg cases.

In Phongsaly, authorities have located eggs in 261 places in 141 villages of six districts, finding them among 1,080 hectares of crops. Locals have collected 286kg of eggs.

In Xieng Khuang, locust eggs have been found in 63 places in 26 villages of three districts, with 979 hectares of crops affected. Some 218kg of eggs were collected.

In Oudomxay, eggs were found in 58 places in 31 villages of four districts, on 40 hectares of land. Organised digs resulted in the collection of 228kg of eggs.

Authorities and villagers are continuing to spray suspect areas with chemicals and to dig for locust eggs. The eggs are being sprayed and destroyed to prevent further locust outbreaks, which mostly occur in areas planted with bamboo.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Bounkhuang Khambounheuang, recently went to observe the locust outbreak in La district, where he advised local authorities and people to closely monitor the area for locusts and prevent an invasion by the destructive pests.

Last year, locusts or their eggs were found in 13,776 hectares of crops in five provinces, with 270 hectares being damaged. In 2016, locusts invaded 10,388 hectares of crops and 4,129 hectares were damaged, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The authorities received cooperation, technical assistance, equipment and funding from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the government of China to help control locust outbreaks last year.

Methods employed usually involved the insects being either captured or sprayed. Locusts were first detected in Laos in October 2014 in Phonthong district, Luang Prabang province, before spreading to other areas and then to Huaphan and Phongsaly provinces.

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