After COVID-19 & Cyclone Amphan – India Prepares For Locust Plague

While the country is already under tremendous pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a fresh crisis has made an appearance in western Rajasthan, a ‘Locust Attack’. The desert locust is a short-horn grasshopper that groups into bands forming swarms and travel great distances. These swarms eat up every kind of vegetation that comes their way. They have the ability to threaten the food security of any nation state.

They usually arrive during July-October period, but, surprisingly, they have already been spotted in Rajasthan especially, in districts like Bundi, Sikar, Pratapgarh and Chittorgarh. The damage is not restricted to only the border districts, they have also ruined crops in Pushkar region which is nearly 500 kilometers from the border. These swarms have travelled all the way from Sindh and Punjab areas of Pakistan in search of green fields.

Rajasthan was already reeling under the onslaught of locusts which started in May last year and continued till February this year. This attack happened after a gap of almost 26 years and reports suggest that crops grown over 670 thousand hectares in 12 districts were damaged and the state incurred a loss of about 1000 crores! The state government has provided nearly 45 pickup vehicles, 70 vehicles for survey and 600 tractor mounted sprayers for control operations. There are also plans to use drones to spray pesticides in affected areas.

India has proposed a trilateral response in partnership with Pakistan and Iran to control this locust wave across the Afro-Asian regions and has even offered to facilitate Malathion, a pesticide, to Pakistan and is still awaiting a response.

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