A swarm of locusts in Bikaner in May 2020. (PTI)
A swarm of locusts in Bikaner in May 2020. (PTI)

FAO alert: Locust movement in India likely during monsoon, numbers to be low

FAO said in the latest desert locust situation update that control operations continue in southwest Iran against hopper groups. It added that small scale breeding is likely to commence with the onset of the monsoon in July
By Dinesh Bothra
PUBLISHED ON JUN 08, 2021 06:49 PM IST

In view of the movement of locusts in southwest Iran, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has said that a few small groups of immature adult locusts could form and move east to the Indo-Pakistan border.

FAO said in the latest desert locust situation update that control operations continue in southwest Iran against hopper groups. It added that small scale breeding is likely to commence with the onset of the monsoon in July, but locust numbers should remain low.

“We are monitoring the situation as per FAO’s desert locust update, but the chances of a locust attack are very low, said KL Gurjar, deputy director of the Locust Warning Organization (LWO).

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An LWO official said that the organisation is fully prepared.To further strengthen ground control capabilities,70 new pieces of equipment were procured from the United Kingdom to increase the number of ground control teams to 104. Additionally, 55 vehicles were procured to strengthen the control potential. He said that last year, to strengthen aerial control capabilities, drones, a Bell helicopter and customised Mi17 Helicopter of Indian Air Force were deployed. Drones were used for locust control for the first time after finalising protocols in coordination with the ministry of civil aviation.

According to a ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare report, a locust attack is not a regular phenomenon and large scale incursions occur characteristically in cycles of heightened activity for a couple of years, followed by long periods of inactivity. Locust attacks were reported in India during 2019-20 and 2020-21, examples of large scale locust upsurges, when locusts migrated to India after a gap of 26 years. During 2019-20, a locust incursion was reported in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab, while in 2020-21, there was locust incursion in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

“During 2019-20, Rajasthan and Gujarat had reported crop loss over 1,79,584 hectares and 19,313.14 hectares of land, respectively. During 2020-21, Haryana reported minimal crop loss, much below the norms of compensation. Uttar Pradesh has reported a very nominal crop loss over 202.9 hectares of land. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand have reported crop loss of below 33% on 805.80 hectares and 292.4 hectares of land respectively. Madhya Pradesh has reported a partial crop loss of 10-15% over 4,400 hectares. Rajasthan has reported a crop loss of above 33% on 489.72 hectares and Gujarat has reported crop loss of below 33% on 6,832.20 hectares of land,” as reported by the ministry of agriculture.

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