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Locust outbreak in Rajasthan after 26 years, insecticide sprayed on 800 ha

Officials said locust hunters are trying to control the impact of the attack reported in the Ramdeora-Pokhran area of the district that borders in Pakistan the first time in May.

jaipur Updated: May 29, 2019 13:35 IST
Dinesh Bothra
Dinesh Bothra
Hindustan Times, Jodhpur
An official said that locusts in millions have attacked vegetation fields in Jaisalmer.
An official said that locusts in millions have attacked vegetation fields in Jaisalmer.(AFP / Representative Photo )
         

A major attack by locust, a tropical grasshopper, has been reported from Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan, which borders Pakistan, after a gap of 26 years, the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur, said on Tuesday.

The LWO officials said locust hunters are trying to control the impact of the attack reported in the Ramdeora-Pokhran area of the district that borders in Pakistan the first time in May.

Locust invasions are generally reported in June-July as the locust active season is from summer to rainy season, officials said. The last major locust outbreak was reported in Rajasthan in 1993.

LWO deputy director, Dr KL Gurjar, said that locusts in millions have attacked vegetation fields in Jaisalmer. “We are spraying insecticides to prevent local breeding,” he said, adding that so far, locust control activities have been carried out in 800 hectares.

According to an advisory by UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), which coordinates global locust control efforts, small-scale breeding continues in coastal areas of Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, where limited control activity was carried out against a few grasshopper groups.

The advisory said local infestations could be supplemented by adult groups and small swarms arriving from Iran. The longerterm outlook suggests that there is a moderate risk of a few swarms migrating after mid-june from the spring breeding areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-pakistan border.

“If Balochistan fails to control breeding of locusts by mid-june, when the monsoon will arrive in the region, there can be major threat along the Indo-Pakistan border,” Gurjar said.

Hindustantimes

Outlining the reasons for the attack, the deputy director, said: “Control operation was going on in Balochistan (Pakistan) for the past one month. Meanwhile, the swarm of locust with winds and sandstorms from Pakistan entered Jaisalmer district.”

Gurjar said usually the desert locust cannot fly long distances but the wind helps them to cover large distances.

India blamed lax controls in Pakistan for the 1993 swarms, also.

The British Government of Imperial India established a locust warning organisation in 1939 with its headquarters in Karachi after the ravages and depredation of the desert locust plague of 1926-1931. The main function of this organization at that time was to keep surveillance in the Thar Desert and issuance of warning to the then Indian states about the possibility of the desert locust swarms incursion, movement and breeding.

The present locust warning organisation established in October 1946. The organisation estimated that the damage to crops caused by locusts between 1926-31 cycles was at least Rs 10 crore, highest in the last 100 days. During 1940-46 and 1949-55 locust cycles, the damage was estimated at Rs 2 crore each and it was only Rs 50 lakh during the last locust cycle (1959-62). Though no locust plague cycles have been observed after 1962, during 1978 and 1993, large-scale upsurges were reported, LWO officials said.

First Published: May 29, 2019 13:00 IST

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