The locust attacks must be taken seriously | HT Editorial
The Rajasthan government on Tuesday sought assistance from the Centre to help contain locust attacks in 12 districts and compensate farmers who have suffered losses due to the infestation. In its letter to the Centre, the state made three points: One, its countermeasures on 3.5 lakh hectares have failed; second, these insects can destroy food meant for 2,500 people in 24 hours; and third, there is a risk of the attacks spreading to other states. Globally, 20 countries have been affected by this round of locust attacks. In its February 3 update, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that the situation remains alarming in the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea region, and both sides of the India-Pakistan border. On February 2, Pakistan declared an emergency to tackle the insects in agrarian Punjab.
Locusts are a group of short-horned grasshoppers that multiply quickly as they migrate. Among the four species of locusts found in India, the desert locust is the most destructive. Usually, states deploy teams to spray organophosphate in concentrated doses to kill locusts. This outbreak, scientists believe, can be linked to the climate crisis. In 2019, the monsoon started six weeks ahead of time (first week of July) in western India. It also lasted till November, instead of the usual September/October cycle. Extended rains created breeding conditions and also produced natural vegetation on which they could feed. FAO officials believe that this attack will probably not set a migration trend, but add that this depends on normal monsoon winds. Unfortunately, among many natural processes the climate crisis has affected, monsoons could also be one. This means India should take the locust outbreak seriously.