At a time when India is fighting the Corona crisis, another challenge has flown in from the Western side in the form of a locust swarm which is harming the crops. 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 districts of Madhya Pradesh, and have recently entered the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.
Are We Caught Unaware?
Though governments at Centre and States have concentrated the strength of administrative machinery in combating Covid-19, the challenge of locust attack is not being overlooked.
- Back on May 6, 2020 itself the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar chaired a meeting with the pesticide manufacturers and all related stakeholders to review the preparedness for locust control.
- The Ministry officials held a video conference meeting with the District Administration and District Agriculture Officers of locust threatened districts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh along with the representatives of National Disaster Management Authority on May 22.
- 200 Locust Circle Offices (LCO) are conducting survey & control operations in close coordination with District Administration and agriculture field machinery of the affected States.
- As on May 26, 2020 control operations against locusts have been done in 47,308-hectare area in total 303 places in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by LCOs in coordination with District Administration and State Agriculture Department.
- 89 fire brigades for pesticide spray; 120 survey vehicles; 47 control vehicles with spray equipment, and 810 tractor mounted sprayers have been deployed for effective locust control. The numbers are further adding up according to the situation.
Previous Success in Fighting Locust
The locust attack is not new for India, but this time it is said to be the worst attack witnessed in the past three decades.
In fact, the previous locust attack India faced between May 2019 to February 2019 was successfully contained. A total of 4,03,488 ha area was treated.
Various media reports have also shed light on India’s effort to contain locusts.
What is the different this time around in locust attack?
Usually, the locust swarms enter the Scheduled Desert Area of India through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June/July with the advent of monsoon. This year, however the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier due to the presence of residual population of Locusts in Pakistan. Pakistan was not able to control these populations last season.
The Ministry said that “everyday Locust Control Organizations and District Authorities and State Agriculture Department officials with control spray vehicles of LCOs, tractor mounted with sprayers and fire tenders, are undertaking operations in early morning hours. 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.”