However, not much damage to crops is reported as sowing has not taken place in most of the areas and harvest of winter crops is over.
“Cotton crops in some areas of Rajasthan and Punjab besides pulses and vegetables have been affected by locust attack. But we have to control locust completely before sowing of Kharif crops begins in June. Otherwise we may suffer heavy losses,” said a senior agriculture department official.
The union government is coordinating with states governments to restrict locust attacks. More than 200 locust circle offices and temporary camps are engaged in conduct in surveys and control operations. 89 fire brigades for pesticide spray, 120 survey vehicles, 47 control vehicles with spray equipments and 810 tractor mounted sprayers have been deployed for effective locust control, as per requirement during different days.
“The government has ordered for procurement of additional 55 vehicles and ensure adequate stock of pesticide (53,000 litres Malathion) with Locust Control Organizations. We have also given Rs 14 crore to Rajasthan, which is the worst affected state with more than 21 districts under attack. We have also sanctioned safety uniform, spray equipments and purchase of vehicles for Gujarat,” said a senior agriculture ministry official.
Everyday Locust Control Organizations, district authorities and state agriculture department officials under take control operations with control spray vehicles of LCOs, tractor mounted with sprayers and fire tenders.
“The immature locust is very active and their mobility makes it difficult to control the swarm at one location and it takes 4 to 5 days of control at different locations to control a particular locust swarm,” the official said
Officials said that there are active swarms of immature locust in Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Jaipur Districts in Rajasthan and Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh.
Usually, the locust swarms enter the desert area through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June or July with the advent of monsoon.
“This year, however the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier because of presence of residual population of locusts in Pakistan which they could not control last season. Since 11th April 2020, locust hoppers and from 30th April, 2020, the incursion of pink immature adults has been reported in bordering districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which are being controlled,” the official said.
As per FAO’s latest locust status update, the current situation remains extremely alarming in East Africa where it is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods. New swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and West Africa.
“As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the Indo-Pakistan border that would allow egg-laying to occur,” the update says.
The union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, had held a meeting with pesticide manufactures and all stakeholders early this month to review the preparedness of locust control.
The government regularly coordinates with South-West Asian countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan where locust attacks are a common phenomenon.
“We first held a high-level meeting with these countries on March 11 in New Delhi. Since then we have been organising virtual meeting on every Monday through video conferencing for reviewing the condition. So far we have held 9 such meetings where information and ways to control locust are exchanged,” he said.
During 2019-20, India witnessed a massive locust attack which was successfully controlled.
“Starting from 21st May, 2019 till 17th February 2020, a total of 4,03,488 ha area was treated and locust was controlled. Along with this, the State Agriculture Department of Rajasthan and Gujarat coordinated Locust control in cropped areas of the State. During 2019-20, Control operations were done in 3,93,933 ha area of 11 districts of Rajasthan; 9,505 ha area in 2 districts of Gujarat and 50 ha area in 1 district of Punjab,” the official said.
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2 Comments on this Story
Alex Hurst241 days ago
What about the locusts in the centre?
Sundaram Ramanathan241 days ago
Gteat, whenever there is a crsis, we tend to rush to centre and PM. Now it is time to pack these locusts and send to pak with interest. so for this gents, we need ideas so that we can give back something in return. Stay healthy.