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Authorities step up efforts as new locust swarm enters Nagpur district

By Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2020 11:36 PM IST

A new swarm of locusts entered Nagpur district on Friday forcing district officials to step up efforts to tackle the short-horned grasshoppers.

The swarm in Vidarbha districts since May 24 has affected 135 hectares of fruit orchards and vegetable farms, said officials from the divisional agricultural department. However, the state agriculture department said there had been no damage to productive crops so far.

“We were informed by our field officers that a fresh swarm entered from Amravati district into Katol tehsil, Nagpur. An existing swarm in this region was reported from Mauda tehsil (around 30 km from Katol),” said Ravindra Bhosale, divisional joint director, agriculture. “We are moving teams to carry out pesticide spraying across both areas as soon as we get the exact location where the swarms settle for the night,” he added.

Around 50 hectares of fruit orchards, mainly oranges, and 35 hectares of vegetable farms have been affected across Katol, Kalmeshwar and Parseoni tehsils in Nagpur district. “There is minimal damage to vegetables, while locusts have been eating leaves of fruit trees, which would have otherwise fallen during flowering. Thus, farmers have not faced any economical losses so far,” said Bhosale, adding that these were just preliminary assessments.

Subhash Nagare, divisional joint director agriculture (in-charge of Amravati) said close to 50 hectares were affected across Morshi and Warud talukas in Amravati district. “These are mostly orange orchards where pesticide spraying has been carried out. However, the situation is under control, with less number of locusts on Friday.”

Suhas Diwase, state agriculture commissioner, said, “There is no crop damage anywhere in the sub-divison. Eating leaves across orchards does not amount to productive damage and loss of vegetables is minimal. Actual damage cannot be assessed in such circumstances. The entire machinery is busy with control measures. There are no instructions from the state so far to assess productive damage.”

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra forest department has alerted the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) and buffer areas to inform authorities if they spot swarms. “This was done after receiving reports of locust swarms present in Parseoni and Ramtek tehsils of Nagpur, which are close to forest patches,” said Ravikiran Govekar, field director, PTR.

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