Biopesticides for locust control in Madagascar

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ID: 24555
Original Filename: FAO_Biotechnologies.mp4
Title: Biopesticides for locust control in Madagascar

How biotechnologies can help small-scale farmers. A natural fungus against locusts has been applied in Madagascar to save crops and guarantee food security to thousands of people.

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License type: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO
Credit: FAO
Country: Madagascar
Size (cm): 1.12 GB; 1920 x 1080 pixels; 8 minutes 47 seconds;
Orientation: Landscape
Date Created: 15/02/2016 12:59:49


Agricultural biotechnologies can help developing sustainable food systems and improving nutrition in the context of climate change.

That is why the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO, has decided to host a Symposium dedicated to this theme.

Every year, somewhere in the world, swarms of locusts devour crops and rangelands, / jeopardizing the food security of millions of people, for whom agriculture is the only source of income.

For more than half a century, chemical pesticides have been the most rapid and efficient method of controlling infestations.

And while they’re still essential in handling major crisis, their efficacy has a price. 

People in developing countries, sometimes collect locusts for consumption even after being warned that they have been treated with dangerous pesticides.

As well as representing a threat to human health, if not handled safely, conventional pesticides can have significant negative effects on the environment. They can kill other insects that are vital to ecosystems. And, they can pollute soils, vegetation, air and water. 

Because of that, for more than 30 years, FAO has been working with locust affected countries to identify less harmful methods to control locust infestations. 

This bio-pesticide is formulated using the spores of fungus, which is specific to locusts and grasshoppers. When the spores come into contact with a locust, they germinate and penetrate its cuticle. At that point, the fungus develops inside the body until it kills the insect.

As the fungus develops, it will first give the locust a pink-coloured tint, and then cover its body with mycelium. 

In operational use, the spraying equipment is the same utilized for conventional pesticides, but the bio-pesticide takes a few days to produce the same results.

While this bio-pesticide isn’t a viable substitute for its chemical counterpart during a severe upsurge, it does constitute a good resource when dealing with ecologically sensitive areas and remains an effective tool for safeguarding crops, and guaranteeing food security for thousands of livelihoods.



SHOT: March 2014 / February 2015

+ ROME, ITALY: Feb 2016 (interviews at FAO HQ)

SOUND: Natural, English, French, Malagasy

TRT: 4’42”




1. Wide shot of landscape in Miandrivazo District crossed by a swarm of locusts

2. Medium shot with boy shooing locusts

3. Detail of locusts eating maize leaves

4. Various of helicopter spraying pesticides

5. Various of FAO laboratory in Miandrivazo District

6. FAO vehicle travelling to field operation

7. Breeders crossing swamp with their cattle

8. SOT: Ren Wang – FAO Assistant Director-General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (English): 

FAO believes that we will need to be open to various approaches that can help ensure food security and nutrition, and those various approaches should include biotechnologies, as one the many aspects of tool boxes. 

VO: So we would like to have this scientific debate, platform, to exchange ideas and to illustrate in practical cases, where biotechnologies have worked to benefit smallholding farmers and consumers.

9. Various of field operator preparing biopesticide mix

10. Wide shot of farmers at work in the fields

11. Medium shot of farmers looking up

12. Pan of sky crossed by a swarm of locusts

13. Medium shot of farmers looking

14. Pan of landscape

15. Various of children shooing locusts

16. Detail of locusts on maize leaves

17. Various of spraying operations: by hand, by car, by helicopter

18. Operators rolling barrels of chemical pesticide 

19. Saïd Lagnaoui, FAO Campaign Coordinator, Madagascar (French): 

VO: A pesticide is a poison.

By definition. Even if used in an appropriate way, there is a risk for human health or the environment.

20. Various of young men collecting locusts with a piece of cloth and putting them into a plastic bag

21. SOT: Manohy, farmer, Madagascar (Malagasy):

We know perfectly well that locusts are treated with pesticides but we don’t have anything to eat so we collect them.

22. Various of pesticide operator undergoing a blood sample

23. Pan on dead insects on the ground

24. Pan over swamps 

25. Detail of biopesticide bag taken out of refrigerated container

26. Detail of suspension of biopestide being poured into a sprayer tank mounted on a jeep

27. Operator putting a sprayer on his back

28. Operator spraying biopesticide on the side a rice field

29. SOT: Annie Monard, FAO Senior Officer and Locust expert (English): 

Metharizium acridum, which is a natural fungus, was identified as the right solution to combat locusts.

VO: By using a biopesticide, the final result will be the same as using a conventional pesticide. The difference is that it’s not harmful for human health and the environment, and the best possible use is within the framework of well implemented locust preventive control strategy.

30. Various of operators preparing the mixture of biopesticide and gasoil

31. Various of spraying operatons by car, by plane, by hand and by helicopter

32. Detail of dying locusts 

33. Operator gathering dying locusts and putting them in a bottle

34. Operator taking dead locusts out of cages 

35. Detail of pink tinted dead locust and dead locust covered with mycelium

36. Plain spraying biopesticide

37. Medium shot of locusts against landscape 

38. SOT: Annie Monard, FAO Senior Officer and Locust expert (English): I’m really convinced that biopesticides are the right way to face and deal properly with locust issues on a sustainable way.

39. Woman in rice field

40. Medium shot of village

41. Boys shooing locusts in rice field

42. Pan over baobabs

43. Various of farmers at work in the fields

44. Girl carrying wood on her head


1. Medium shot of locust swarm

2. Wide shot of locust swarm

3. Detail of locusts copulating on the ground

4. Various of helicopter flying among swarms of locusts

5. Plane spraying biopesticide

6. Various of farmers at work in the fields

7. Helicopter spraying biopesticide

8. Various of farmers at work in the fields

9. Boys shooting locusts

10. SOT: Marcela Villarreal – Director of FAO's Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development (English): This Symposium has been actually crafted to identify and to increase the knowledge on biotechnologies, which by the way, are much more than GMOs… biotechnologies that are focused on the smallholder, biotechnologies that can help the smallholders improve their production, their productivity, their access to markets, and therefore reduce their poverty and their food insecurity. We have made a very specific emphasis in sharing experiences from around the world on biotechnologies that today are already at the reach of the smallholders and that are helping them get out of poverty.

11. SOT: Ren Wang – FAO Assistant Director-General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (English)

We will hear many examples of application of biotechnologies during the Symposium, but let me just highlight perhaps two cases. One is the development of a drought tolerant maize for Sub-Saharan Africa’s smallholding farmers, through the use of biotechnologies, molecular markers and so on. And that new variety of maize, has shown up to 35 percent of yield increase compared with normal varieties, under medium/severe drought conditions. 

Another example is the use of a fungus as a biopesticide against migratory locusts in Madagascar. It has already been applied and millions of smallholding farmers, especially rice growers, are benefitting from those examples.