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Peru battles locust plague
The plague contains at least 15 million locusts
By South America correspondent Stephen Cviic

The Peruvian Government has enlisted the support of an army helicopter to try to deal with a plague of locusts which is destroying crops in the north of the country.

The helicopter is being used to spray millions of locusts with insecticide, while special brigades carry out similar work on the ground.

Peruvian Agriculture Minister Belisario de las Casas said the insects were destroying everything that stood in their way.

Huge cloud

The plague is one of the biggest Peru has ever seen - at least 15 million locusts covering an estimated area of 50 square km.

Locusts numbers jumped after the El Nino weather phenomenon
The locust cloud is bigger than the towns whose livelihoods are under threat.

According to the agriculture ministry, the insects have eaten maize, barley, rice and beans - staple crops crucial to the local economy.

It is unclear just how large an area has been affected, but the agriculture minister, who visited the region on Tuesday, is taking the problem seriously.

He has set up special brigades armed with flame-throwers and fumigation equipment and has asked the army to provide another helicopter to help fight the locusts.

Plagues like this are rare in Peru.

The authorities say locust numbers jumped after the El Nino weather phenomenon in 1998, which warmed sea waters and caused heavy rains along the coast.


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