Locusts and grasshoppers have plagued farmers in West Africa for thousands of years. These swarming pests eat the equivalent of their own weight in a day and can decimate rice, millet, maize, and vegetable crops, in addition to fruit trees. A plague of locusts can strip entire regions of vegetation. Most farmers treat locusts with chemical pesticides, which are expensive and can harm human and environmental health.
Like many Senegalese farming communities, CREATE!’s partner villages have also struggled with locust infestations. CREATE! Cooperative gardens are especially tempting for locusts because they are green oases in the arid landscape of rural Senegal.
Recently, CREATE! field technicians found an innovative and ingenious solution to locusts – mosquito nets. Agricultural cooperative members and their neighbors recycled their old mosquito nets, or purchased extra nets at a local health clinic, and used this netting to cover the cooperative gardens. With netting over the crops, women are still able to weed and water, but locusts can’t reach the vegetables!
Mosquito nets are a locally and culturally appropriate solution to locust infestation. CREATE!’s field technicians used ingenuity and initiative to discover and implement this practice – and with tremendous results! With mosquito netting in place, CREATE!’s agricultural cooperatives greatly reduced crop loss during this growing season.