Intensive control operations reduced locust threat in India, Pak, says FAO

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Intensive control operations in India and Pakistan have significantly reduced locust infestations in both countries, says UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in its latest advisory released on September 2.

“In southwest Asia, extensive hatching and hopper band formation occurred in India and, on a smaller scale, in southeast Pakistan. Intensive control operations have significantly reduced infestations in both countries. Consequently, the second generation of breeding that commences in September is expected to be on a much smaller and more manageable scale,” says the advisory.

Dr K L Gurjar, deputy director at Locust Warning Organization at Jodhpur said that it is a big relief to the country which is facing threat of locust attacks since the past one and half year. Gurjar said that in its recent advisory FAO said that due to intensive control operations, India and Pakistan have reduced locust infestations. Gurjar added that in present situation there is no presence of locust anywhere in the country.

He said that earlier FAO warned about a huge locust attack from Ethiopia and northern Somalia. It was advised that by the first week of September adult locust groups may enter in India and may cause huge damage. Gurjar said that in its recent advisory FAO said that there is no possibility for the groups from Ethiopia and northern Somalia to enter India.

Summer breeding, said Gurjar, has taken place in many parts of Rajasthan, including Nagaur, Jodhpur, Hanumangarh and Barmer. He said that with better coordination of state and central government departments and with use of helicopters, drones, fire brigade and hand sprays, locust control operations were carried out successfully and at present there is no presence of locust.

According to Gurjar, only summer breeding of locust takes place in India and winter breeding takes place in Iran, Baluchistan and in some parts of southeast Pakistan.

“During the summer, we have successfully carried out locust control operations in India and simultaneously similar successful operations were carried out across the border in Pakistan, due to which now there is no chance of locust attack in India in near future,” said Gurjar.

“We will continue to keep an eye on the spring breeding of locust which usually takes place in Pakistan,” he added.

Since the past one and half year the country has faced huge locust attacks in more than 10 states, including national capital Delhi.

After a long gap of 26 years, first locust attack was reported on May 21, 2019 in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district. In the first attack locusts caused huge damage to Rabi crops in around ten lakh hectares in Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, by the second week of February locust attack was controlled with intense control operations.

Later, On April 11, 2020, the country faced a second locust attack. This time, locust groups were spread in more than 10 states including Rajasthan, UP, MP, Haryana, Bihar, Gujarat, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. With an alarming situation, the issue was raised in many state assemblies and also in Parliament. As a result, the government swung in action and with locust control operations at large level locust infestations and breeding was controlled by the end of July.

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