The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has made R5 million immediately available to provide support in personal protective equipment, sprayer pumps and aerial spraying support to teams combatting the outbreak of locust swarms in the Western Cape.

Combatting the locust infestation is critical for food security and rural livelihoods.

The locust infestation levels, including the new areas it has migrated into, have placed enormous pressure on our farmers in Central and Little Karoo.

The fruit and wine commodity groups are under severe pressure, with locust swarms migrating into the Calitzdorp, Ladismith and Oudtshoorn areas. The Swellendam and Barrydale areas renowned for pastures, small grain crops, and fruit is also under threat.

National legislation clearly states that managing migratory pests is a national mandate. National legislation, however, clearly outlines the critical role that province should play in supporting and facilitating the migratory pests infestations to divert a disaster.

Our immediate step is to mitigate the locust infestation in the Western Cape in collaboration with its sector partners such as organised agriculture, DALRRD, district municipalities, District Locust Officers, and Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC).

The PDMC has activated the Locust Joint Operation Committee (JOC), and a 24-hour action plan has been put in place until the locust infestation levels are under control.

I have also written to the national Minister of Agriculture, Ms Thoko Didiza, to seek additional support as we battle the current outbreak.

The Western Cape will continue to work with our stakeholders to find a lasting solution to protect the agricultural sector in the Western Cape. This includes engaging with the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces.

We have to prevent an impending disaster. Doing so will protect the agricultural sector and livelihoods.

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