Fresh locust swarms threaten with monsoon onset in Rajasthan
Fresh swarms of locust are likely to invade India from the Horn of Africa in either end-June or early-July depending on the strength of the south-westerly monsoon winds.
The Jodhpur-based Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) authorities are preparing to control the swarms that are likely to move across the Indian Ocean with winds because of the aerial spraying of pesticides.
The onset of monsoon in Rajasthan is likely to occur on June 24 or 25 and the LWO authorities are preparing to control the population of locusts that are hovering in the desert areas between India and neighbouring Pakistan and also possible local breeding of these insects.
“We are expecting swarms from other parts of Rajasthan and MP to return to the desert areas as soon as it starts raining. Once locusts lay eggs, they immediately start hatching them and that can be controlled by spraying of insecticides. So far, some breeding has occurred in Bikaner,” said KL Gurjar, deputy director, LWO.
Last week, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had warned that Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Pakistan, and India should remain on high alert for the next four weeks for fresh locust invasions.
Any swarms in northern Somalia in the Horn of Africa can migrate across the Indian Ocean to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.
“There are successive breeding cycles in the Horn of Africa. Some swarms from there are moving towards western Africa, while some are moving towards Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen in the Persian Gulf. These can also come to India in July. Some are expected to directly move to India from the Horn of Africa with the monsoon winds,” Gurjar said.
“The winds are moving from the direction of the Horn of Africa towards India. The wind direction is south-westerly during monsoon,” said Dr. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general, India Meteorological Department (IMD).
So far, the impact on food security due to locust invasions has not been much.
However, LWO authorities said the Kharif crop, especially maize and cotton, is likely to be impacted if the two locust threats—from the Indian Ocean and from the breeding sites in India aren’t controlled.
“Only green cover has been impacted because there was no standing crop. We are well prepared. Helicopters and drones are being used for aerial spraying. The number of vehicles deployed has also increased,” said Gurjar.
The LWO authorities and state governments have controlled locust attack over two lakh hectares by the spraying of toxic pesticides such as Lambda Cyhalothrin, Malathion 96 and Chlorpyrifos.
IMD authorities on Tuesday said that the conditions are becoming favourable for the advancement of south-western monsoon into remaining parts of Gujarat, MP, Uttar Pradesh, the entire western Himalayan region, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, most parts of Punjab and some parts of Rajasthan during the next 48 hours.
A trough of low pressure at mean sea level is running from north-western Rajasthan to the northwestern Bay of Bengal across northeastern Rajasthan, northern MP, northern parts of Chhattisgarh, southern parts of Jharkhand and northern parts of Odisha at lower tropospheric levels.
Widespread and heavy rains are likely to continue over the north-east and adjoining eastern India during the next five days, IMD’s Tuesday bulletin said.
Heavy to very heavy rainfall is also likely to occur over parts of western Himalayas and northern plains from June 24 to 25.
The country has received 25% excess rains till Tuesday, including central India (99.6%); peninsular India (8%); north-western India (8%); and eastern and north-eastern India (3%).