VIENTIANE, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- High-level officials from Laos, China, Vietnam and Thailand gathered here on Monday to discuss cooperation efforts in the prevention and control of the yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreak in Laos.
A consultation workshop on the management of the yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreak in Laos for 2017 was held Monday in Lao capital Vientiane. The workshop was co-chaired by Lao Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhouang Khambounheuang and FAO Representative for Laos Stephen Rudgard.
Speaking at the workshop, Bounkhouang noted that the yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreak in the region has been devastating for food crops over past years. The first outbreak of locusts occurred in 1929 in China before spreading to Yunnan province in 2012. There were locust outbreaks in 2008 and 2015 in Vietnam as well, the official was quoted by Lao state-run media Vientiane Times as saying.
In Laos, the yellow-spined bamboo locust was first detected in October 2014 in northern Luang Prabang province's Phonthong district before spreading to other areas in the province and then to northern Huaphan and Phongsaly provinces.
Locusts were reported in 140 places in 2014, but in 2015 they had been recorded in more than 500 locations in 14 districts of the three provinces, despite increased efforts to stop them, he said.
The Lao official said the yellow-spined bamboo locust outbreak has threatened food security and poverty reduction in Laos especially in the affected provinces. In response, the government introduced measures on the prevention and control of a locust outbreak in 2016 by increasing responsibility to prevent and destroy locust populations in the northern provinces of Laos.
In the past, the government has received cooperation and technical support from China, Thailand and international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to combat the locust population and help reduce devastation to crops. However, the government was unable control the outbreaks of locust at all, he added.
There will be a severe increase of locust outbreaks in 2017 after the surveillance team from Lao agricultural department found an increase of 20 to 30 percent for locust infestations compared to previous years.
According to a report by FAO, this locust species normally emerges in April as it hatches from the previous year's eggs laid in the ground, then feeds and grows for up to four months, before developing wings as it reaches adulthood.