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#Buhari-Led Govt Scales Up Aerial Spray To Control Quelea Bird In N/East [PHOTOS]

Aerial Spray To Control Quelea Bird In N/East
#Buhari-Led Govt Scales Up Aerial Spray To Control Quelea Bird In N/East [PHOTOS]
#Buhari-Led Govt Scales Up Aerial Spray To Control Quelea Bird In N/East [PHOTOS]—The Federal Government has begun aerial spray of pesticides to control quelea bird invasion in North-East region.
Alhaji Usman Ciromari, Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)  in Yobe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Damaturu, that the exercise was designed to destroy quelea bird nesting colonies in Yobe and other parts of the region.
Quelea also called red-billed quelea, or dioch, is a small brownish bird of Africa. It occurs in such enormous numbers that it often destroys grain crops and, by roosting, breaks branches.
The birds are long-distance migrants with a range covering well over 10 million square kilometres of Africa’s semi-arid, bush, grassland and savannah regions.
“It’s a pest in many different African countries, stretching from South Africa, north through countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, and all the way across the Sahel to Mauritania.
Intensive farming and an increase in cereal crop production throughout the continent resulted in an explosion in their numbers; according to some estimates quelea populations have increased anywhere from 10 to 100 times since 1970s.
According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), efforts to control quelea populations have had poor successes.
Although they prefer the seeds of wild grasses to those of cultivated crops, their huge numbers make them a constant threat to fields of sorghum, wheat, barley, millet and rice.
The average quelea bird eats around 10 grammes of grain per day, so a flock of two million can devour as much as 20 tons of grain in a single day.
With an estimated adult breeding population of at least 1.5 billion, FAO estimates the agricultural losses attributable to the quelea in excess of US$50 million annually.
Quelea distribution
To control the menace, Ciroma said the aerial spray which began on Aug. 10, aimed at eliminating nests of the migratory birds had so far covered Ngalda, Wachakal and Gadaka areas of Yobe.
According to Ciroma, spraying the birds’ colonies with avicides is the only available method of controlling them at the moment.
The director, however, said if African countries could coordinate and conduct aerial spray simultaneously, the birds would be eliminated completely.
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) had earlier expressed concern over incessant quelea bird’s attacks on farmlands in Nguru, Bade, Karasuwa and Yusufari Local Government Areas of the state.
Alhaji Modu Sandari, AFAN Chairman in Nguru, said quelea bird destroyed over 1,000 hectares of rice fields cultivated by 672 farmers during the 2021 cropping season.
He, therefore, called for aerial spray against quelea bird regularly to forestall its devastating attack on the farms.
Sandari said quelea bird nesting colonies currently exist in Makawagabas, Makawayamma, Maikwankone, Maiyashi, Maigudu, Ruwantsamiya, Azur, Dala, Ngurodi and Dogana.
In Jigawa, which is one of the state worst hit by the ravaging birds, the state government would soon commence aerial spray to combat the pest.
Alhaji Hamza Muhammad, Special Assistant on Community Development and Inclusion to Gov. Badaru Abubakar, said the bird infested farmlands in Guri, Kirikasamma, Hadejia, Auyo, Miga and Kazaure LGAs.
He said the state government in collaboration with FMARD would control the bird to protect farmlands from destruction.
He said the aerial spray followed complained by farmers of birds’ invasion of farmlands in the affected areas.
According to him, the government has been making efforts since 2016, to control the invasion of destructive birds in the state.
“The Federal Government has been conducting annual aerial spray of pesticides to reduce quelea bird population during their incubation period.
“Also, this time around, arrangements have been concluded for the FG’s aerial spray to control trans-border pest.
“The exercise targeted the incubation period of these birds before they hatched, and become more in number to destroy crops,” he said.
Quelea colonies
In Borno, the state government said over 500 hectres of farmlands had been destroyed by quelea bird and locust.
Mustapha Fatibe, Director, Produce and Pest Control, Borno State Ministry of Agriculture, said the ravaging bird destroyed farm produce in Mafa and Konduga while locust infested farmlands in Jere LGA.
“We visited all the affected areas and took measures that gave positive results in containing the pest infestation.
“The FMARD supported us, particularly in containing grasshoppers in Jere LGA,” Fatibe said.
While noting the negative impact of pest on good harvest, the director said prompt report of pest to the relevant authorities would fast track effective control.
In Gombe State, Dr Musa Inuwa, the Coordinator, FMARD, said the ministry had intensified aerial spray to control quelea bird to boost food security in the stats and the country at large.
According to him, quelea bird and other trans-boundary pest control is key to the food security programme of the Federal Government, hence the intervention to prevent the devastating effects on farmlands.
“If not for the effort of the Federal Government in controlling quelea bird, many farmers would have sunk into poverty.
“The Federal Government has been proactive in controlling trans-boundary pests in 12 states including Gombe through aerial spray of farmlands.
“In Gombe State we carried out the exercise on Aug. 3, covering Shongom, Kaltungo, Nafada, Billiri and Dukku LGAs.
“This exercise is helping rural farmers who depend on farming for their livelihood. These birds and locusts come in millions and when they feed on the farmlands there will be nothing left,” he said.
Inuwa said the chemicals used in the exercise had no adverse effect on crops, and warned farmers against consumption of birds that died as a result of the spray.
Moreso; Daniel Abarshi, Director of the FMARD in Bauchi State, said the ministry had scaled up campaign against the birds across the state.
He urged the state governments to augment Federal Government’s efforts through provision of additional flight hours, pesticides and logistics to effectively control the ravaging birds in the region.
For his part, Dr Haruna Hashimu, an agronomist lauded the Federal Government for the aerial spray exercise to control quelea bird.
He said aerial spray is key to quelea bird control, protect farmers and encourage agricultural productivity.
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