GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 April) – Swarms of migratory locusts have invaded anew portions of the international airport here, threatening airline operations.
Merlinda Donasco, City Agriculture Office (CAO) chief, said Friday the locusts have settled in the past several days along the perimeter and grassy areas of the airport, especially near the runway.
She said they were initially informed last Monday by personnel of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) about the presence of locusts and reported problems encountered by an aircraft.
On Wednesday, she said CAAP informed them that the locusts have reached the main runway and caused problems to at least two aircrafts.
Donasco said they immediately conducted chemical spraying on the affected areas in coordination with CAAP to control the number of the locusts and prevent them from spreading in other portions of the airport.
“We’re continually monitoring the situation there and we’re working on some further interventions to totally clear them from the airport,” she said in an interview over Brigada News TV.
Citing their assessment, she said the locust swarms came from farms and grassy fields in nearby T’boli town in South Cotabato and Maasim in Sarangani.
She said they could have been driven to the area due to wind direction and their migratory nature.
Donasco said the presence of locust swarms were initially reported by concerned residents in portions of Barangay San Jose last April 13.
She said they inspected the area the next day and found them in Puroks Pataldaw and Blagan of San Jose.
Two days later, they received reports that the locusts have reached portions of the Alcantara ranch, which is located beside the airport.
Donasco said they have already coordinated with the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Crop Protection Center in Region 12 to control the spread of the locusts and further prevent them from infesting local farm areas.
As of Friday, she said they estimated that around 40 to 50 hectares of farm areas were already affected by locust attacks.
The official said they have scheduled massive chemical spraying operations starting May 2 in the affected farm areas.
Owing to this, she advised residents to refrain from consuming locusts to avoid possible poisoning.
She urged residents in areas near Barangay San Jose to immediately report any presence of locust swarms to their barangay officials and assigned CAO technicians.
The city experienced a major locust infestation starting September last year and was only controlled in December.
It also reached portions of the airport and eventually invaded grassy areas near the runway. (MindaNews)