locust-invasion

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.

 

The locusts:

  • 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.