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Illovo estates lose K8 million to locusts

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Illovo Sugar Company whose sugarcane and maize fields were invaded by a swarm of locusts on August 8, has said it has it has lost K8 million to deal with the pests.

Agronomy Field Manager, Peter Chiipanthenga, disclosed this yesatertday when Agriculture Minister, George Chaponda, visited Illovo estates to appreciate the damage the locusts caused.

Chiipanthenga said the locusts were first reported in Nsanje in July and kept moving slowly towards Nchalo before attacking the sugarcane fields.

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“The swarm arrived through the southern part of the estate and it kept moving northwards. We sprayed about 80 hectares of the estate but still the locusts did not die. We then applied another chemical using airplanes and we covered about 175 hectares,” he said.

Chiipanthenga said the chartered plane and the chemical cost his company about $63 per hectare.

Chaponda said the locusts were a source of worry for government that it will affect its efforts towards alleviating hunger in the country.

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But he was thankful to Illovo for its timely response towards the disaster.

“When we got reports of the outbreak we sent about 600 litres of cypermethrin to be sprayed and again we consulted an organisation called the International Red Locust Association of the East and Southern Africa to help us. So, in case another swarm comes, I am assuring the nation that we will be in a better place to respond,” he said.

The locusts are identified as the African migratory locust and not red locust as it has been described. The swarms reportedly flew into Malawi from neighbouring Mozambique.

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