Government Reports Progress Against Grasshopper PestBy Jan Hogewoning | Tue, 06/30/2020 - 18:31
This year, the government has undertaken several sanitary campaigns to control pests. One of these is action taken by the government to stop the arrival of the Asian giant hornet in Mexico, a potentially dangerous insect for humans that was observed in the several eastern states of the US earlier in the year. In the last week of April, the government reported that National Service of Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality (SENASICA) technicians had managed to fully eradicate the Mediterranean fly from the state of Colima, after having been detected in shipments in the port of Manzanillo. SENASICA, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), has also been in closer collaboration with its US counterpart to monitor sanitary standards during inspection of food goods crossing the US-Mexico border amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Now, the government has reported advances in actions against another pest, that of the Central American Grasshopper ((Schistocerca piceifrons Walker). According to official figures from SADER, government technicians have explored over 100,000 hectares and taken samples of 5,983 hectares in 700 controlled actions this year in an effort to protect around 58 million tons of agricultural production from the Central American grasshopper (Schistocerca piceifrons Walker). The total value of these goods is estimated to be MX$70 billion (US$3.04 billion). The Central American grasshopper is capable of traveling 120 km/hour, and has an appetite for over 400 different species of plants. It is also characterized by its ability to form group of over 80 million individuals, and by its faster productive rate, all characteristics which do not favor pest control. The image of millions of grasshoppers draws comparison with the massive locust plague which is sweeping large areas of East Africa at the moment and putting the food of millions of inhabitants at risk. Fortunately, according to SADER, the insect is not considered to travel large distances from one area of the country to another, nor from one continent to another.
The entity responsible for monitoring and taking action against the plague in Mexico is SENASICA, a subsidiary of SADER, which has had continuous presence as part of this campaign in the states Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Yucatan. In this process, they are being assisted by technicians from the individual state’s Vegetative Health Committees.
The primary objective of the campaign, SADER has stated, is to identify grasshopper populations, by traversing areas which traditionally have populations. The technicians have used advanced technology to do this, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and specifically designed mobile applications. Once populations are spotted, the density is estimated, and adequate methods of plague control are applied. The government estimates that these actions are helping to protect around 6 million hectares of agricultural land, which amounts to 25 percent of national production. The ministry has announced that it wants to invest another MX$25 million (US$1.08 million) to continue the campaign.