Thousands of locusts on the wall of a house at Cachipe Village, Moruga on Monday.

As swarms of locusts continue to spread further inland from the forests of Moruga and Cedros, calls are being made for the government to use environmentally safe aviation methods to control the pests.

For a second week, newly hatched hoppers continued to move out of the Moruga forests and enter residents’ homes at Cacvhipe Village in Moruga.

Locust Eradication Unit officers have refused to spray near the residents’ homes saying the chemicals will affect pets.

But speaking to Guardian Media on Tuesday, agriculture economist Omardath Maharaj said the loss of forest cover through unregulated land use, changes in annual rainfall cycles as well as climate change, had caused the proliferation of the insects.

Saying there must be proper management in the control of the locusts, Maharaj noted that some countries have started capturing the locusts and using them as livestock feeds and organic fertilizer.

He called on the government to collaborate internationally to find modern strategies to eradicate the pests.

“In 2019 the Minister of Agriculture said that his government was collaborating with the government of Argentina, which he said had some success in controlling and reducing the invasions and prevalence of the pest,” Maharaj revealed.

However, he said little came out of that meeting.

“ There is no known information in the public domain on the outcome of the collaboration, methodologies and strategies to be adopted to manage the pest or even consultation, collaboration and coordination of the common communities usually affected,” he said.

While Locust Eradication Units from the counties of Victoria and St Patrick have been trying to decimate the insects in their nesting and hopper stages, Maharaj said more modern strategies could be utilized.

“We are seeing the continued invasion of the locusts in Moruga and adjoining areas in Penal, Tabaquite and Rio Claro. While some may advocate for aviation control such as what was used by Caroni (1975) Limited, there has since been the proliferation of residential and industrial development around those lands and similarly in the south-eastern region,” Maharaj said.

Because of this, the application of pesticides and other chemical interventions aerially will be harmful to human health, watercourses and wildlife.

Maharaj said usage must be zoned and added this method may also be financially unfeasible.

“The previously defined agricultural zones in this country have since faded with the decimation of the sector over the years,” he noted. Maharaj said modern technology offers the use of drones in agriculture. He said there were several types of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) used for spotting nesting areas.

He said the use of UAS can help with crop production as well as reducing praedial larceny through farm security and surveillance.

He also called on the government to use the locusts as livestock feeds.

“Similar to the ideas of utilizing the plagues of Sargassum seaweed as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers, the capture and conversion of the locusts as a form of livestock feed and fertilizer is also a welcomed opportunity especially at the community-level. In raw form, some wild birds, as well as chickens and ducks do consume the locusts. It again calls for vision and leadership from the Ministry of Agriculture in guiding these possibilities,” he said.

Contacted for comment Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat said locust eradication fell under the purview of Chief Technical Officer Dr Simone Titus who said she will issue a response today.