The Trail of the Locust Attack
These locusts are known to be bred and matured in Iranian provinces and Pakistan’s Balochistan province. They reached Rajasthan on 22nd May and then travelled to Madhya Pradesh sue to shift in winds. Consequently, 33 districts of Rajasthan are battling the scourge. After that, the swarm moved to Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi district.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare deployed drones, satellite-derived tools, special fire-tenders, and sprayers at pre-identified border locations The Uttar Pradesh government is educating the farmers on keeping the locust menace at bay. The Agra administration has deployed 204 tractors mounted with pesticide chemical sprays.
The Economic Effect
Reports claim that the swarms are about to touch the Rajasthan-Haryana border, and then could move into Delhi. Locust is one of the 12 species of short-horned grasshoppers. They can travel up to 130 km a day, and each locust can consume about two grams of fresh vegetation. This means that a big swarm can eat acres of crops within an hour. Also, the Food and Agricultural Organization has warned that they can pose a threat to food security.
Experts estimate destruction of around Rs 8,000 crore worth moong crop in MP if the attack continues. Besides, FAO projects that one square kilometre swarm of locusts, with about 40 million locusts, can eat as much food as for 35,000 people in a day. The uncontrolled crowd travelling long distances can destroy cotton and chilly crops worth several thousand crores of rupees.
This is not the first time that India has experienced such an attack. The country witnessed the first locust attack in the December-February period. Scientists account for cyclones in the Indian Ocean that hit a sandy area in the Arabian Peninsula which resulted in breeding conditions for locusts.
In all, the pandemic, Amphan cyclone, and locust attack bespeak the perils of environmental degradation and the need to act for the same.