Locusts, Rodents, Floods Destroy Crops in China’s Yunnan Province

Locusts, Rodents, Floods Destroy Crops in China’s Yunnan Province
A picture taken near Isiolo town in Isiolo county, eastern Kenya, shows locust nymphs aggregated in shrubbery at a hatch site on Feb. 25, 2020. (Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images)

Southern China has suffered its worst natural disasters in decades this year. Farmers in Yunnan Province say that in addition to the floods, an ongoing locust plague and rodent infestation have damaged nearly all the crops.

Locust invasions in parts of southern China began in late June.

Pu'er city, in southern Yunnan, was reported to have had more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers) of farming areas covered by invading locusts by the evening of July 9.

At the time, state media reports claimed that the locust plague was eventually placed "under control."

But Ms. Ni from Tongguan town, Mojiang county in Pu'er told The Epoch Times that on July 29, a large group of locusts moved into the local area. They left two or three days later.

The bamboo was seriously affected. "A group of locusts flew past (here), resting on bamboo. There were more than 3,000 locusts on a cluster of bamboos (about 20 bamboos) and it looked like a nest. Later, it was wiped out with pesticide to prevent it from laying eggs there," she told the publication on Aug. 30.

Ms. Ni said that the locust mainly harms bamboo and corn. Since the local area is far from the border of Laos, where the locusts migrated from, the corn is not yet affected.

But she is worried about the corn field. She explained that in mild scenarios, the corn leaves would be gone, and in the most serious case, there would be zero corn harvest. Ms. Li said that the situation in Jiangcheng county in Pu'er is more serious due to its close proximity to Laos.

An employee of a courier company in Jiangcheng county told The Epoch Times that some local crops have been completely destroyed by the invading locusts. “Swarms of locusts attacked the grain field, and munched on the ears of rice. It looks like a grasshopper, five or six times larger than a grasshopper. It’s like a gray cloak covering the entire region and a lot of grain was eaten,” he said.

China news portal Sohu reported that Niuluo River and other areas in Jiangcheng had a large number of locusts in mid-July. After 4 p.m. every day, the swarms of locusts migrating from Laos covered the sky and sounded like the roar of an engine.

Corn Destroyed by Locusts, Rodents, and Floods

On Aug. 27, the Yunnan Provincial Forestry and Grassland Administration posted a notice on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website. The post stated that since the end of June, the yellow-spined bamboo locusts invaded the province until Aug. 26; but the situation was kept under control because the authorities took timely and preventive measures. As of Aug. 28, the migration of locusts has not been detected in Jiangcheng county, Niuluo River Nature Reserve, and the border of Qushui town for 20, 36 and 34 consecutive days. The areas that have been infested by yellow-spined bamboo locusts in Yunnan has been “cleared.”

However, a resident told The Epoch Times a different story.

Ms. Wang from Kangping township, Jiangcheng county told the publication on Aug. 30 that the locusts had invaded her hometown last month. "It has been 20 days. When they came, they were in groups. They came like those little birds that would fly to the entrance of the village in flocks. It took several minutes for the locusts to fly by and the swarm blocked the sun in the sky.”

Ms. Wang said that although the local government has mobilized a large number of personnel and agricultural experts to eradicate locusts, the situation was difficult to control as the locusts didn’t always travel in groups like they usually do. “Now that the locusts are scattered and difficult to spot them—some here, some there, they move quickly, and they fly like a bird.”

Ms. Wang said that the disaster caused by locusts is very serious. “They eat everything, corn and bamboo leaves. They especially like to eat the bamboo leaves. The bamboo tips and leaves are all eaten, and everything is eaten up, wherever they go. The bamboo and the leaves for making the broom are all eaten. In serious cases, the shells of the corn are eaten, and all the corn is eaten. It has a big impact.”

Ms. Wang grows tea, corn, and nuts. In addition to the locust plague this year, rodent infestation has also caused great loss in her field. “There are also a lot of rodents. They eat everything. The damage is serious, the corn is all earless and all eaten up.”

“The nuts we planted are all gone. We only planted about two acres of corn. If there were about 1,300 pounds of corn after harvest, we could only end up with half of it. If it is in terms of cash, we are likely to lose several thousand yuan, about five or six thousand yuan ($730 to $877).”

Ms. Wang said that there have been many natural disasters this year. Farmers by the riverside suffered from floods, which caused great losses to the crops they planted. “Our local village and township next to the river were hit by floods. The rows of corn and the planted rice were flooded. The pond overflowed and the fish spilled out. I don’t live by the river, so my home didn’t get flooded."

When asked if the authorities have provided any aid to the farmers, Ms. Wang said there’s no sign of it. “Haven’t heard anything about the relief. Don’t know what to do. Too much has been eaten [by the locusts]. It’s been reported [to the authorities], but the relief, I don’t have a clue.”

Ms. Wang also mentioned the damage caused by wild elephants that frequently appeared in the area. “The wild elephants eat in the corn field, one patch after another. They eat quite a lot, they come in groups, one herd after another. The elephant area has no harvest this year.”

She sighed and said, "This year the crops have suffered too much—the floods, the locusts, and the rodents.”

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