Gambia deploys locust taskforce amid reports of impending invasion

The Gambian government has set up an Emergency Desert Locust Preparedness Taskforce to combat and control a possible outbreak of the pest in the country.

The taskforce comprises various stakeholders from the African Emergency Locust Project (AELP), Gambia Emergency Agricultural Productivity Programme (GEAPP) and the West African Agricultural Production Project (WAAPP).

Recently, the team visited all the desert locust structures across the country to ascertain their level of preparedness.

The visit comes after speculation of another locust plague in East Africa and some parts of West Africa by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

To avert any form of invasion, the Ministry of Agriculture set up an emergency desert locust preparedness taskforce and national resources mobilisation committee.

The locust structures in question were built during the tenure of Sheikh Tijan Sosseh, who was the Ex-coordinator of AELP and also heads the team.

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The taskforce was charged with ensuring that all centres and structures are fit, while giving recommendations that can help combat the envisaged locust invasion.

Visiting some of the sites this week, it noted that some of the sites’ equipment were substandard and unfit to function in cases of pest invasion.

It said, “The team recommends that the existing structures are put in accordance as most of the structures are scrap and need urgent maintenance.

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“The team was also able to mobilise well-experienced and expert engineers to ensure that most of the equipment were tested and repaired”.

The taskforce also recommended the training of more military personnel, civil society, extension workers and the media to ensure that Gambia can withstand any emergencies.

Its report was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture after the inspection, with all recommendations and necessities duly noted.

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