A Strategy to fight desert locust infestation in Tigray!
Hagos Berhe 10-17-20
Prevent first & then combat the residual!
Instead of being proactive, the fight against the desert locust infestation was rather reactive. There were early warnings of the looming invasion by both local and global institutions. But we all, bottom-up, are acting as if we had just heard the news now.
I have been in the southern zone of the Tigray Regional Government during the time when the E.D.R. E. Ministry of Agriculture declared the news that it has deployed aircrafts to combat the locust infestation. I was there just to show up myself the poor farmers that I am on their side & offer my support. I could not believe such white lies disseminated from a government media. It was extremely dire situation to me & others around me and the E.D.R.E was not doing anything to help except telling a lie.
Contrary to my hopelessness with the failure of the concerned ministerial office, I was a little bit morally compensated by the courage of all the people coming from every direction of the region gallantly fighting the swarms. Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my message that I am very grateful for all those who are continuously participating in the campaign against the locust outbreak (morally, physically, materially-in-kind, financially…). There were a lot of tools & new inventions to fight the locust invasion better. It was wonderful to me how far our untapped potential for innovation (technological) & entrepreneurship (business & management) could have contributed if the opportunity were facilitated further. As the saying goes “problem is the mother of invention". Had we tackled the problem since last year, you can imagine the extent of the creativity this time around could be?
Given the courage & all the unbelievable initiative & innovation, the campaign for the locust defense was poorly managed at the beginning. The fight in the individual colonies was not aligned with the entire fight against the whole swarms in the earliest days of the combat. The “parts were not in alignment with the whole”. Our military generals can articulate the defects of the campaign better than I can. Their involvement in the leadership would have been valuable as the nature of the fight highly simulates (or resembles) the battlefield. However, as time goes by, there was a great improvement.
Nowadays, we are facing repeated/frequent desert locust outbreaks. We cannot eradicate it by our own efforts only as the problem is transcontinental. It is also impossible to fully defend the infestation unless it is controlled at the source where it is reproduced. The problem calls for a permanent & proactive solution. Locust infestation aggravates the resistance against our endeavors for food security & self-sufficiency. All the efforts that we exert to ensure food security will be fruitless unless we blend a permanent locust infestation defense strategy/policy to it. I am not the right person with the acumen to strategize the policy. However, I have the concern that there must be a right policy in place to permanently mitigate the recurring problem
Let me propose the following to that end:
1. Organize an ad hoc (impromptu) task force to assess the effectiveness/shortcomings of the policy & practice we had so far from all concerned the list of which may include, but not limited to, Bureau of Agriculture, Emergency Prevention & food security, all Universities & Research institutions in the region, and others.
2. Conduct researches specially by universities & research institutions to augment the most relevant & applicable best practices in the strategy to be designed. The focus may be on: Organization & Structure, Preparedness, Technologies, Early Warning Systems (EWS), etc.
3. Craft a locust infestation prevention strategy as the major focus should be on prevention while incorporating the roadmap of the combat strategy when it is impossible to defend by the former.
Once again! “Attempt to fully prevent first & then combat the residual!