Biotech Updates

Locust Disaster in Tanzania Prevented

July 3, 2009

Locusts know no border. And for farmers in Africa, this fact can translate into disaster. A locust can consume more than its weight in food in just a day. If not controlled, large swarms of locusts will fly over vast areas of farmland, traveling over a distance of 20-30 kilometers per day and feeding on cereals, sugar cane, citrus and fruit trees, cotton, legumes and vegetables cultivated by often poor farmers. African farmers, however, have an effective tool in their arsenal to combat the devastating insect: biopesticides.

Recently, an international red locust emergency campaign in Southern Africa, spearheaded by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) succeeded in containing a massive locust outbreak in Tanzania. According to FAO, it was the first time that biopesticides were used on a large scale in Africa against locusts.

Using Green Muscle, a potent mixture of spores of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and mineral oils, FAO controlled locust infestations in Tanzania's Iku-Katavi National Park, Lake Rukwa plains and Malagarasi River Basin. The biopesticide, FAO noted, is not toxic to humans and kills only locusts and grasshoppers.

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