The crossroads for the Tirso roadman, on the road that connects Bolotana with Ottana, is the field map of an announced disaster. As if following the road signs, the hordes of grasshoppers that are breaking down on the after-effects of the industrialization of central Sardinia conquer, meter by meter, hundreds of uncultivated land and lush fields. They advance on all directions, looking south rather than the source of the great river. Those streets impregnated with insects squashed by the millions on the red-hot asphalt surface are nothing compared to what is being consumed in the fields of this "biblical" land where only those who have not seen can freely speak of alarmism. In fact, it's still nothing. To say it are the times of nature, of the mutation of these exasperated devourers capable of razing any vegetable they decide to bite to the ground, to the point of reducing it to the pavement.

Hop and fly

The sequence is divided into two fundamental stages of the development of the insect: the jump and, then, the flight. From mid-April, as happened this year, the hatching of the eggs has been recorded, currently still in progress. A phase that is over thirty days, characterized by the "birth of the first juvenile forms of the insect, characterized by the absence of wings that will develop during their metamorphosis". It is from early June that that "hop" will inexorably transform into flight. Wasting more time, more than what has already been lost, means allowing these billions of insects to spread wings and conquer boundless spaces. What is happening in central Sardinia, with a south-south-east direction, is all written. In official documents, albeit confidential. Disarming relationships, analysis and data to make you shiver.

Waterloo in the cards

In the cards we have come into possession there is much more than a losing game, a war that risks turning into a Waterloo with no escape. The first element that we report in full is linked to a statement contained in the "Report on the results of monitoring the phenomenon of the invasion of locusts in the year 2021" prepared by the Sustainability Service for agricultural activities of the Laore regional agency. It is in that dossier intended for the Department of Agriculture that we read the most ominous of forecasts: "If this year some oviposition in the southern area are successful, in 2022 the insects could extend their ranges even further south and return to situations that Guido Grandi cites for Sardinia, relating to 1946 ». To put pen to paper and transmit the communication reserved to the leaders of the Region is the Laore Agency, the one that was first Etfas and then Ersat, dedicated to the implementation of agricultural programs. The primary source of the analysis on the fields, the regional agency, which after a dispute over the competences was entrusted to deal with the "dossier" grasshoppers, is not indicated as responsible for the escalation in the Tirso valley. The seven pages of the document leave no way out. Between the accusations, data and analysis, the synthesis is tranchant: we warned you of what was happening, but we arrived at the appointment with the "calamity" unarmed and with a guilty "underestimation". After all, that explicit reference to the 1946 catastrophe is much more than a warning. And to pronounce it are the heads of the regional agency. The memory of all, or almost all, has removed that year and that catastrophe. To go back to those facts, updated in the last dossier of the Region, it is necessary to take up the Entomology manual of one of the greatest experts in the field, Professor Guido Grandi. It is he who in the sacred text of the “grasshopper phenomenon” reconstructs the dynamics of the Sardinian catastrophe of 1946, with a Sardinia on its knees, overwhelmed by the epochal invasion of serial devourers. The chapter of his treatise speaks of "affected areas of the order of 1,500,000 hectares". In practice, almost two thirds of the island traveled far and wide by a phenomenon that saw lined up thousands of men, army, air forces and hundreds of vehicles. It was even the War Ministry who mobilized the forces in the field. The regional Agency, in today's report on the facts, not only declines the imminent danger, but recalls, not only for memory, the similar report prepared as early as 2020, where "it highlights that the areas affected by the insect could increase , similarly to what happened in 1946 ». Despite the warnings - writes Laore - "the problem has been underestimated - we attach, as proof of this, the report of Laore of 2021, which is the continuation of that of 2020". And it is in this "reserved" of May 17 that the unprecedented escalation is pronounced: "The outbreaks start above all from abandoned land, and then cause damage in the neighboring areas, thus favoring the expansion of the phenomenon from one year to the next in absence of adequate interventions. In order to frame the problem, we remind you that these insects, if not contrasted, reproduce almost geometrically, the results are those of today ". As if to say: the phenomenon has not been countered as it should have been and now everything is more complicated. And the results of what is happening are reported in the internal note of the Regional Agency: «To date, May 17, 223 sites where treatments with deltamethrin have been performed and georeferenced have been performed. We are talking about an area of around 30,000 hectares where monitoring a similar area appears very complex, it should have started with a prevention plan when reported by Laore in 2020 ".

Without money

The technicians put their hands forward in the face of the catastrophe for which they were left alone in the field: «It is important to underline - it is written in the hypothesis text of the three-year regional plan - that it was operated in a situation of extreme urgency. With resources that could be spent in due time, the teams could have been better organized and other companies that carry out phytosanitary treatments could have been identified ». Therefore, financial resources were also non-existent and the teams were not as organized as would have been necessary. And that the war is destined to be lost, without a sudden and vigorous change of gear, is demonstrated by some passages of the dossier finished in our hands: "The first 10 days of April the means of the Province took to the field to which Laore provided the first 40 liters of deltamethrin (supplied and delivered on parole, as there were still no available resources). Over the course of the days, the teams equipped with brought sprayers have also become 15 (5 teams from the Nuoro Province), led by about twenty technicians from Laore ».

White flag

How to present yourself in front of the army of grasshoppers deployed, for now, in 30,000 hectares, holding a white flag. The "underestimation" of the disaster is summarized in an annotation of the confidential note that says it all about the situation: «To complete the quick summary of 2020, it is emphasized that the Regional Council Resolution no. 1/22 of 8/01/2021 incorrectly reports, as indications of the damaged areas, only the sheets that in the Laore report are indicated as monitoring points and not the whole area indicated in the report as territorial area affected by the trophic activity of grasshoppers ». In practice, the Region has exchanged the monitoring areas with the areas involved. How to confuse the penalty spot with the playing field. Now all that remains is the urgent declaration of a state of emergency and calamity. The region and the state have not yet declared it yet, but now, even if it is late, it cannot be postponed. Municipalities could ask for it in the next few hours. All too late. In 1946 to counter that scourge they deployed the army, today, however, many words, little money, many delays and infinite responsibilities.

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