At present, the locust horde is active in Barmer, Jodhpur District, Nagaur, Sriganganahar and Ajmer in Rajasthan.
Although the current attack cannot be of much disadvantage because crop harvests in these districts have been completed, timely action is needed to prevent damage during summer sowing.
So the state authority, under the direct supervision of the Union agriculture ministry, so far, has treated more than 14,299 hectares of agricultural land in 135 points in Jaisalmer, Sri Ganganagar District, Jodhpur, Barmer, Nagaur, Ajmer and Pali in Rajasthan and Fazilka in Punjab.
Underlining predictions from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which signaled the possibility of a surge in locust attacks from June, an official said, “The ministry has begun training grasshopper control and even auctioning tenders to empanel institutions to use drones for surveillance in vulnerable areas. ”
Asked about coordination with Pakistan like what India did last year when the two countries met five times at Munabao in India and Khokhropar in Pakistan, the official said, “The ministry has begun the process of starting bilateral meetings through the FAO and this time it may be a virtual meeting to exchanging information about overcoming grasshopper attacks in the current Covid-19 situation. ”
He said, “Since the locust attack occurred this year earlier than the normal invasion period, we want an initial bilateral meeting.”
This will be in addition to the ongoing FAO effort to bring the four affected countries in Asia – India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan – on the same page for coordinated action. So far, eight virtual meetings have been held among representatives of the four countries on Skype since March 11 when the first high-level meeting was held on the issue of locust invasion. India is represented by the state minister for agriculture, Kailash Choudhary, and the Union’s agriculture secretary, Sanjay Agarwal, on meeting. This multilateral virtual meeting is now held every Monday since then.
On the use of drones, the official said, “In addition to surveillance, the drones will also be used for spraying pesticides in India. The center is also in the process of procuring additional special sprayers (equipped with the latest technology) from the UK (UK).” At present, 50 sprayers / vehicles are being used to control locust attacks. Sprayers installed in tractors and fire tenders, which are used in various locations, are also used for locust control operations. ”
Minister of Agriculture of the Union, Narendra Singh Tomar, on Wednesday discussed the problem of pesticide use and availability with representatives of private companies and sensitive officials for action on the ground.
At present, 10 locust circle offices of the central government, located in Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Churu, Nagaur, Suratgarh Regency in Rajasthan; and the districts of Palanpur and Bhuj in Gujarat, working in scheduled desert areas of more than 2 lakh square km in India.
Usually, with the arrival of the rainy season, locusts enter the desert regions scheduled in India through Pakistan to breed in the summer of June / July.
“But this year, locusts of grasshoppers were reported from April 11 and pink adult flocks were reported from April 30 in the border districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which, however, have been controlled. In addition, control operations against new gangs are ongoing,” the statement said from the ministry of agriculture.
It was said, “One of the reasons for this is the uncontrolled herd from the previous season in Pakistan that continues to multiply. The flock of immature pink adults flying high and traveling long distances with strong winds coming from Pakistan. Most of the people these immature pink adults stay in the tree during the night and most fly during the day. ”
Globally, 30 countries (mostly Africa and West Asia) covering 16 million square km are vulnerable to desert locust attacks.
Grasshoppers do damage by devouring leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark and plants that grow, and also by breaking trees due to their weight when they sit in the mass. Adult desert grasshoppers can consume approximately their own weight in fresh food per day.
“A square-sized horde containing about 40 million grasshoppers, which eat the same amount of food in one day with about 35,000 people, 20 camels or 6 elephants,” said official records about locust attacks during 2019-20.
During 2019-20, there were large locust attacks in India. A total of 4.03,488 hectares of area were treated during control operations from 21 May 2019 to 17 February 2020.