Locust invasion plagues Madagascar

Monday 15 Apr 2013 5:37 p.m.

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By Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson

A locust invasion in Madagascar is devouring large amounts of the country's main food staple and threatening to plunge the population into famine.

A tropical cyclone crippled Madagascar's food supply in February, flooding 14,000 acres of crops and creating a perfect breeding environment for locusts.

"We're really dealing with locusts that are growing, that are breeding, that are spreading, and that are flying over long distances," says Princeton University's Iain Couzin.

In order to stop the problem, a multi-prong approach is needed, involving surveillance and application of insecticide. Experts estimate that will cost the UN US$41 million.

"If we cannot act immediately, like within the next few months, it's going to be incredibly expensive in terms of this massive famine," says Mr Couzin.

The locusts do more damage every day, and the hope now is to prevent the infestation that could tip millions from just barely getting by - to starving.

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