Extensive spraying has started in a bid to eradicate swarms of locusts which have already destroyed several acres of crops at Mendez Village, Penal.
Resident Hemraj Seelal said the locusts have been feeding off trees in the forests since January but over the past month, they have started destroying fields of peas, cassava, ochroes and bodi.
“They eating up the ochro trees. We are facing a lot of losses right now,” Seelal said on Monday.
Farmer Raithraj Sooknanan said millions of locusts have hatched in the Penal forests and were gobbling acres of vegetation.
“The swarms are concentrated in the forests near the Bunsee Trace volcano. I plant five acres of land in that area and the locusts eating out everything,” Sooknanan said.
He said on Sunday he bought an insecticide and sprayed his fields.
“The rain fell today but we still seeing thousands of them on the ground. They coming into my garden. They eat out all the cassava, bodi and ochroes. It is very frustrating for us,” Sooknanan said. He noted a meeting was held with agricultural extension officers last month and promises were made that the entire area will be sprayed.
“That was about a month ago. This looks like a new set that hatch out because they very small and they are staying close to the ground,” Sooknanan said.
Farmer Randy Seenath said the Ministry should be spraying consistently.
“The locusts usually remain in the land for a month. They need to be spraying regularly to make sure that people’s crops are not damaged,” Seenath said.
Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said they were still doing an assessment of the situation.
Councillor Diptee Ramnath said the locusts have been plaguing farmers for several years but within recent times the swarms have been appearing more frequently.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said the swarms were not unusual.
He said spraying started on Sunday and will continue.
Penal is not the only area infested with locusts.
The Ministry said it has been monitoring locusts infestations at Piparo, St Mary’s Tabaquite, Mayo, New Grant, Princes Town, Mantacool, Tableland, Penal Rock Road, Tortuga, Mamoral, Barrackpore, Moruga, Esmeralda, Carapo, Williamsville, Gran Couva, Cachipe, Indian Trail, Edward Trace and Watts Road.
Last year, several parts of Point Fortin also reported locusts infestations.
Two types of locusts have been identified in Trinidad. These include the Cedros locust which is larger in size, has smaller swarms and is less destructive.
The other is the Moruga locust which is smaller in size, has larger swarms and is more destructive.
- by Radhica De Silva