- After a third wave of desert locusts last week were brought to Cape Verde with eastern winds from the African mainland, authorities are on alert. The threat to harvests comes in addition to a local drought, which could create a crisis in several of the islands in the chronically food insecure Cape Verdean archipelago. Brava and Fogo island councils already warn of "an emergency".
According to information from the FAO office in Cape Verde, a third wave of desert locusts on 20 September reached the islands Santo Antão, São Nicolau, Sal, Boavista and Fogo. The islands of Santiago and Maio were already infested by the locusts, and the plague thus has reached seven of the archipelagos nine main islands.
The new locust invasion from the West African mainland comes shortly after municipal authorities in Santiago and Maio, with FAO assistance, had treated all the 500 hectares infested by locust larvae with pesticides. The larvae however already had managed to do "significant harm" to maize, bean groundnut crops on the two islands, according to FAO.
According to municipal authorities on the two south-western islands Fogo and Brava, drought conditions had caused an additional crisis here. The Brava municipal chamber now is to present the Cape Verdean government with "an emergency plan aiming at assisting some 800 people who depend on agriculture for their livelihood," reported the independent weekly 'A Semana' yesterday.
The elaboration of the plan comes after realising that this year's agricultural season had been a total failure for the vast majority of the island's farmers. Like the municipality of São Filipe on the neighbouring island of Fogo, Brava is "struggling with the consequences of the relatively low levels of rain that have fallen so far this year on the island," 'A Semana' reports from the islands.
Municipal chamber president Eugénio Veiga of the western Fogo town had told the weekly newspaper that "the situation is critical" and is worse than any other year since 1972. The island was experiencing a crop failure and a lack of pasture for its animal herds.
However, according to government sources in the Cape Verdean capital, Praia, the situation is under control. Data released in late August by the National Food Security Agency (ANSA) conclude that food supply was "guaranteed on a national level" during the next months. ANSA said national food stocks of millet paralleled 6.3 months consume, while rice stocks would last 4.7 months and wheat 3.8 months.
Nevertheless, ANSA recognised that rains in August had been both scarce and insufficient to secure good harvests in many part of the archipelago.
Also according to the latest update of the tri-monthly governmental food security bulletin 'Azagua', the situation was under control. According to the bulletin, recent rains were producing a "favourable" agricultural situation on all of Cape Verde's islands - in sharp contrast to reports from Fogo and Brava islands.
The government newsletter however reports that the desert locust plague was "continuing" and that "successive spreads are registered in the islands of Santiago and Maio." On these two islands, damages caused on crops and pastures by the plague had been "significant," the publication warned.
While municipal authorities in Fogo and Brava complain of total crop failures, 'Azagua' reports positively of "maize in vegetative growth and beans in ramification" from two major Brava farms. Contacted by afrol News, Nancy Palus of the regional office of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Dakar only had access to the positive government reports regarding the situation in Cape Verde. The WFP coordinator had no information on a possible crisis in development in Brava and Fogo, even after contacting the WFP office in Praia.
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