From loud music, to beating utensils and spraying: How farmers are dealing with locust attack
Government officials and farm experts said desert locusts have engulfed around 35,000 hectares in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh since entering India on April 11.Updated: May 27, 2020 09:25 IST
India is battling its worst desert locust outbreak in decades with swarms reported in seven heartland states of the country from north to west, threatening some vegetable and pulse crops.
Government officials and farm experts said desert locusts have engulfed around 35,000 hectares in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh since entering India on April 11.
The crop munching insects currently headed to Dausa and Karauli districts in Rajasthan may tilt direction towards Delhi if wind patterns change, experts have warned.
A swarm can cover a distance of 15 km in a day and one that covers an area of a square kilometre can eat as much food as 35,000 people in terms of weight.
Central and state bodies have stepped up efforts to control the menace as it poses crop vulnerability and threat to food safety if the outbreak is not contained.
Here’s how they are dealing with the locust plague:
* The Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) has a ground team of 50 people mainly to monitor and track the swarms. Drones are being used for aerial spraying of Malathion 96, an organophosphate insecticide and a potentially toxic chemical for non-cropped areas.
* For areas with agriculture, chlorpyrifos is sprayed by drones, fire brigades and tractor-mounted sprays.
* In Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur, farmers have arranged water tankers and chemicals for spraying in a bid to drive away locusts from attacking their farms.
* Farmers in Budhni and Nasrullaganj areas of Madhya Pradesh’s Sehore district have been beating utensils in a bid to drive away locusts. Disinfectants are also being sprinkled on trees and crops to protect them from locusts in these areas.
* In Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district, officials have told farmers that they can scare away locusts by beating tin drums, plates etc. They have also been advised to spray pesticides on their crops to protect them from locusts.
* Police have been asked to blow sirens from their vehicles in Prayagraj.
* 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 Madhya Pradesh, teams continue to track the swarms wherever they are going and spray chemical over them.
* Farmers in Hoshangabad, Raisen, Sehore, Sagar, Chhatapur, Harda and several other districts too beat drums, tin cans, burst firecrackers and even arranged bonfires.
(With agency inputs)