Early onset of Locusts swarm may damage Kharif crop for Indian farmers
The swarm of locusts that had been moving from Pakistan into India went unchecked by the Indian authorities, leading to a possibility of major destruction of the kharif crop, sources have confirmed.
Locusts, it is known, can travel as much as 150 km in a day and a small swarm can devour as much food as can feed as many as 2500 people.
It has been further confirmed that the Ministry of Agriculture has not acted in time to prevent damage done by the swarm that has said to have moved through Indian states. The Centre has also failed to provide financial aid to affected state governments.
The swarms have travelled from Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and then Chhattisgarh. Locust invasion is common on the border states like Rajasthan and Gujarat but this year has been an earlier onset and that also in huge numbers coming across from another neighboring country. These are common practice in June- July months but not before that.
However, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), India needs to be prepared for a succession of such invasions until July, especially in Rajasthan with ‘eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Odissa followed by westward movements and then a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon.’ In all, it will be roller coaster ride for the kharif crop season in India.
The invasion is going to start with the spring breeding ones coming from East Africa, West Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is an added threat from the summer breeding ones that move along the India-Pakistan border. The latter will affect Rajasthan and Gujarat. According to experts, spray technology being bought from United Kingdom does not help as the latter has no experience of handling such infestations.
Aerial spraying is ideal to control the damage beforehand. But this time, the damage has been done by the early than usual arrival of locusts. The cotton crop in parts of Bikaner and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan was severely damaged. According to scientists, India needs to engage with countries like Iran and Pakistan that has knowledge and understanding of how to control the trans-boundary pest.
The overall consensus is that the crop yield could be affected if the infestation is not controlled well in time. This attack has been described as the worst in 26 years.