"We’re worried about September’s harvest because that’s the month when the locust population will be at its highest"
Since we identified the first swarms of locusts in our region, our job has been to inform people of the risks posed by the desert locust. Our survey teams go out to the villages and organise training sessions with local officials. The officials then inform the village residents. It’s very important that people know how to recognise a desert locust because this enables them to tell us the exact location of a swarm. We can then go and spray this area with insect repellent. Over the past few weeks – thanks to the telephone network that now covers the majority of the region – we’ve received lots of calls from people who are keen to help, and this has greatly improved the effectiveness of our missions.At the moment, the main problem is the Malian border. Political instability has made it too dangerous to send any of our teams into Mali. So far, there haven’t been any encounters with armed groups in the north of Niger but there’s a risk that we could be attacked by Islamists or drug traffickers who are hiding out in this region.Unfortunately, the unrest in the north of Mali means that nothing is being done to prevent the locusts from migrating south, where they will breed during the rainy season in June. And whilst the current situation is bad, I fear that the worst is still to come in the autumn. We will need to harvest our crops in September, but that’s the month when the locust population will be at its highest. We’re doing everything we can in Niger, but we cannot control the locusts coming from Mali.