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Published On: Wed, Jun 26th, 2013

Locust plague prompts fears of a food shortage in Madagascar

A locust plague on the island of Madagascar has already  infested over half of the island nation’s cultivated land and pastures, prompting fears of a food shortage on the Indian Ocean island country, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

The UN agency says a large-scale emergency control campaign urgently requires a minimum of  $22 million in funding to start in time for the next crop planting season in September. So far, FAO emergency appeals for Madagascar remain severely underfunded. By September, FAO expects that two-thirds of the country will be infested by locusts.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva emphasized that prevention and early action  are key. “If we don’t act now, the plague could last years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. This could very well be a last window of opportunity to avert an extended crisis,” he said.

According to a recent FAO assessment mission on the impact of the current locust plague in Madagascar, in parts of the country rice and maize losses due to the locusts vary from 40 to 70 percent of the crop, with 100 percent losses on certain plots.

There could be losses in rice production of up to 630 000 tonnes, or about 25 percent of total demand for rice in Madagascar. This would severely affect food and nutrition security and livelihoods of the most vulnerable, according to the FAO.

Rice is the main staple in the country, where 80 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar per day. One and a half million hectares will need to be treated by aerial spraying during the 2013/2014 campaign.

See video of Madagascar locust swarm

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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