Locust Situation Nears Crisis Point; “We Must Tackle this Together” Says Mme Ravalomanana
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, July 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
Presidential Candidate Lalao Ravalomanana has responded to the UN appeal for funds to
control the locust plague threatening Madagascar, saying the country must unite in the
face of this major environmental threat.
Last week, the The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation appealed for $22
million to tackle the locust plague that has already infested over half of Madagascar’s
cultivated land and pastures, threatening to trigger a severe food crisis.
Funding is needed to start a large-scale control campaign in time for the next crop
planting season in September, the agency stated, adding that its emergency appeals for
Madagascar remain “severely underfunded.”
Mme Ravalomanana said: “I have been deeply concerned by the current administration’s
failure to make the necessary investment to protect our lands. It has been more than half
a year since the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation recommended an increase in
pesticide use to address the threat of swarming locusts – but nothing was done. The people
of Madagascar are paying the price for this laziness.”
“The plague we now face poses a great risk to our food supply, for if it is left
untreated, it will wipe out food crops and livestock grazing lands as well as a family’s
ability to provide for itself. I am told that losses in rice production, a staple for our
people, could reach 630,000 tonnes – a quarter of the total demand.”
The FAO predicts that two-thirds of Madagascar will be infested with locusts by
September, putting 60 per cent of the Malagasy people at risk. Its assessment mission on
the impact of the current locust plague found that rice and maize losses vary from 40 to
70 per cent of the crop, with 100 per cent losses on certain plots.
Mme Ravalomanana continued: “We are grateful to the UN for its efforts to support the
Malagasy people in this time of need. But this is a crisis which could have been averted.
We all know that many of our people depend directly on agriculture for food and income.
Nothing is more important than protecting this – but failure to spend a little on
preventative measures at the right time has turned a pest into a national crisis.”
“Under my presidency my government will take all precautions necessary to protect our
land and the people who rely on it. Never again will we sit back and wait until the
international community comes to our rescue. We must unite together to take responsibility
for the livelihood of Madagascar’s 22 million people and for the future of our children.”
Notes to editor:
Madame Lalao Ravalomanana is the Presidential Candidate for the Mouvance Ravalomanana,
a growing coalition of political parties dedicated to bringing a secure, peaceful and
prosperous future to Madagascar. For high resolution images free to download, visit the
Mouvance Ravalomanana Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/96646855@N04
SOURCE Ravalomanana 2013