In news: Farmlands in the International border region of Gujarat were under threat from locusts invasion or the hoppers (new-born locusts) invasion.
- Locusts flew in from Pakistan’s Sindh province and got spread in villages in Rajasthan and Gujarat where south western monsoon had prolonged this time.
- Originally, the locusts emerged in February this year from Sudan and Eritrea in Africa's Red Sea Coast.
- They travelled through Saudi Arabia and Iran to enter Pakistan, where they invaded the Sindh province and from there they moved into Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- They are locally known as tiddis.
- Locusts are a collection of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase.
- Locusts are the oldest migratory pest in the world.
- The most devastating of all locust species is the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria).
- During quiet periods, Desert Locusts live in the desert areas between West Africa and India – an area of about 16 million square km where they normally survive in about 30 countries.
- Locusts have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances (they can fly up to 150 km per day).
Locust Control and Research
- Indian government established a permanent locust warning and control organization under ICAR in 1939.
- The Locust Warning Organization (LWO) monitors locust situation/activities over an area 2.00 lakh sq km of the scheduled desert area in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.
- Its field headquarters is at Jodhpur.
- Besides, there is one Field Station Investigation on Locusts (FSIL) situated at Bikaner.
- To strengthen the locust monitoring and forecasting a Remote Sensing Laboratory has also been setup to prepare vegetation maps based on satellite imager for locust forecasting.
Impacts of the Locust Attack:
- It causes significant damage to agriculture.
- Wherever locusts settle on a field, they destroy the vegetation.
- Massive attack jeopardizes food security and livelihood of the farmers in the region.
- Among the affected crops: Groundnut, castor and cotton were main kharif crops while mustard, cumin and wheat are major Rabi crops.
Steps taken by the State Government:
- Government has explored the possibility of sprinkling pesticides and chemicals through choppers in affected areas.
- The State administration along with the central teams has launched a huge pesticide-spraying operation to kill the insects.
- The administration will carry out a survey to assess the damages and will accordingly compensate farmers.