For two states, unfamiliar farm threat triggers untested responseUpdated: May 25, 2020 23:56 IST
Lucknow/Bhopal: For agriculture departments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, dealing with swarms of locust is something new. Therefore, in addition to spraying pesticides, the local administrations have adopted unconventional -- adnd potentially unproven -- methods such as sounding sirens, playing loud music and using drones to scare the insects.
Agriculture department officials of the two states said that they have no records to show when the last locust attack took place in their states. “We have no record of the last major locust attack,” said sugarcane commissioner, Sanjay R Bhoosreddy, who is coordinating anti-locust activities in Uttar Pradesh.
Prayagraj district agriculture officer Ashwani Kumar Singh, said: “We have informed farmers that they can scare away locusts by beating tin drum, plates etc. Besides, they are also being advised to spray pesticides on their crops to protect them from locusts.”
Singh said that the police have been asked to blow sirens from their vehicles . “All village pradhans and farmers of Prayagraj have been alerted about the locust attacks and have been asked to inform district authorities if they spot a swarm through gram panchayat adhikaris and agriculture technical assistants who remain in touch with them locally so that appropriate steps can be taken,” he said.
The Agra district administration has deployed 204 tractors equipped with chemical sprays to keep the pests at bay. The Jhansi district administration has directed the fire brigades to remain on standby with chemicals and also to blow sirens to ward off the insects.
In Uttar Pradesh, locusts have damaged crops in Jhansi, Lalitpur and Hamirpur districts and 15 more districts such as Agra, Aligarh, Mathura, Firozabad and Etawah are under threat.
Bhoosreddy said all necessary protective measures were being be taken to protect sugarcane crop. “If locusts are spotted in sugarcane crop, the department has recommended immediate spraying of insecticides such as chlorpyrifos 20 percent EC, chlorpyrifos 50 percent EC, Bundiomethrin, Fipronil, and Lambda,” he said.
In Madhya Pradesh, principal secretary, agriculture Ajeet Kesari, said, “Our teams continue to track the swarms wherever they are going and spray chemical over them. However, their groups are smaller now -- say one or two kilometres in radius -- unlike in the beginning when they were spread in the radius of 5 to 6 kilometres.”
Farmers in Hoshangabad, Raisen, Sehore, Sagar, Chhatapur, Harda and several other districts too beat drums, tin cans, burst fire crackers and even arranged bone fires . “All possible ways are being adopted to keep locust away from crops. We have deployed police vehicles that blow sirens to shoo away the insects,” said AK Nema, deputy director, agriculture, Sagar division. He added that farmers have been given pesticides to spray on crops to minimize the damage.
Madhya Pradesh agriculture minister, Kamal Patel, said, “A survey will be carried out in the state to assess the damage caused by swarms of locusts and compensation will be given to the farmers affected.”