Stakeholder collaboration key in Locust Fight

Improved communication and the sharing of both information and resources amongst farmers and State agencies can go a long way in assisting those communities affected by the Moruga Locust (Coscineuta virens). Such was the view of Agricultural Officer for the County Victoria Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF), Ms. Sati Gangapersad, as she conducted a Locust Stakeholder Sensitization Session at the Enchanted Gardens Banquet Hall in New Grant on Wednesday 22nd November, 2017. “You need to treat the locust as you would any other pest by being proactive in the use of your own equipment and not simply waiting on the Ministry to address your control measures because our resources are both stretched and exhaustible,” she advised some eighteen (18) participants at the Session, whose presence were engaged in order to examine the roles which both they and MALF can and must play in the effective management of the pest.

Ms. Gangapersad said “we are asking you to call us when you see locusts in all its forms so we can zone in on their locations; monitor their activity; prioritize our own resources and properly treat with the area. This sort of assistance in information gathering is particularly important because what we have recognized is that the locusts tend to lay eggs within the vicinity of where they mate.”

Also echoing the “proactive” sentiments of Ms. Gangapersad was former Agriculture Minister – Dr. Reeza Mohammed – who appealed to the charity and goodwill of one fleet-owning farmer. Dr. Mohammed also recommended that the Ministry’s administrators consider incorporating the biological agent – the Metarhizium fungus – in its current Locust control measures (particularly during the egg-bed stage); solicit additional financing (as required) through its various State agencies and; actively engage in the redeployment of staff to treat with those manpower deficiencies faced at the level of the various Counties.

Among those other stakeholders present at the Session were representatives from the Princes Town Farmers Association (PTFA); Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT) and one of MALF’s agencies – the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).

To report sightings of the Moruga locust and for additional information on the agricultural pest, please call the Victoria County Agricultural Office in Princes Town at 655-3428 / 7526 / 5637.

Egg-beds of the Moruga locust on display during a Stakeholder Sensitization Session at the Enchanted Gardens Banquet Hall in New Grant on Wednesday 22nd November, 2017.