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Desert Locust Attack in India
What is Desert Locust?
Desert Locust is a short-horned grasshopper and one of the most devastating migratory pests in the world and feeds on large quantities of any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and fodder. It is said to be the most dangerous of the locust pests because of their ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances.
A typical swarm can be formed up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer and is carried on the wind, up to 150 Km in one day, Interestingly, it has two to five generations per year.
It is an international transboundary pest that threatens agricultural production and livelihoods in many countries in Africa, the Middle East, and south and southwestern Asia.
After Pakistan declared a national emergency in February to battle locusts destroying crops on a large scale in Punjab province, now India is battling the desert locusts in the country’s heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Gujarat and Punjab have also warned the farmers of locust attacks. The locusts which bred and matured in Iran and Pakistan’s Baluchistan reached Rajasthan.
In Rajasthan, 16 districts are affected, in UP 17 and Madhya Pradesh has reported one of the worst attacks in 27 years. The swarms could make headway to the Rajasthan – Haryana border and then enter to Delhi. Four teams of the central government and teams of state agricultural development are using chemical sprays with the help of tractors and fire – brigade vehicles to keep the locusts at bay.
Economic consequences of Locust Attacks.
Locusts are dangerous which can destroy the crops and devastate the livelihoods of people in the agricultural supply chain. According to FAO, one square kilometer of the swarm of locusts can consume as much food as 35000 people, which can also be said that each individual consumes 2.3 Kg of food per day.
Currently in Madhya Pradesh, the Moong cereal crop worth around Rs 8000 crore in Madhya Pradesh had destroyed. Further, if it is not controlled, it can travel to long distances and damage cotton, and chilly crops also fruits and vegetables worth several thousand crores of rupees could be damaged.
To prevent these Farmers have been asked to keep the locusts away using loud sounds through drums, banging of utensils, and shouting.
Also, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has deployed drones, satellite-derived tools, special fire – tenders, and sprayers around the identified border location.
Collaborated efforts are being put at the international level with Iran, Pakistan, and Africa to fight against the desert locust wave.