The Inkatha Freedom Party in KwaZulu-Natal calls upon the KZN MEC for Agriculture, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, to inform the public of the measures in place to protect crops in the province, should a locust outbreak pose a threat to our agricultural sector.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, has announced that the country is currently experiencing outbreaks of locusts in the Free State, Northern Cape and Western Cape.
Although, there are currently no locusts reported in KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP challenges the MEC to reveal the prevention measures – if any – that her Department has in place to safeguard our agricultural sector. Our province is an agricultural hub that produces food not only for South Africa but also for the export market. It is vitally important that this sector is not undermined by the potential threat posed by locusts. The IFP believes that the Department of Agriculture should be proactive and engage with farmers in order to give them peace of mind that their crops will not be affected. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation.
Further, the locust crisis overlaps with the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a crisis within a crisis. In itself, the Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to create a severe food security crisis in KZN. Local agri-food supply chains are already experiencing disruptions, including reduced access to inputs and services, labour movement, transport and liquidity, due to Covid-19. In particular, the pandemic is disrupting supply chains for pesticides and other equipment necessary to control the spread of locusts.
The MEC should not remain silent in the face of such a devastating threat to our agricultural sector. We cannot allow a situation where the government only reacts in a knee-jerk manner after a disaster has occurred. We are very concerned that should these locusts invade our province, there will be large-scale destruction of farms, that will result in massive job losses. This will also have a knock-on effect and lead to an increase in food prices, which will impact the poorest of the poor.
The IFP advises the public, farmers and farmer organisations that they must report the presence of swarms immediately to the nearest agricultural offices, so that officials can act quickly and work to avoid extensive damage.
Mr Nhlanhla Msimango, MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Agriculture
074 259 0820