Locusts attack Jaipur, FAO warns of higher risks along India-Pakistan border

Locust attack: India looks to Pakistan, Iran for help in fighting swarm

Year of Tragedy: Locust Invasion Now Wreaking Havoc in Central India - Video

India is bracing itself for a growing assault on its western front, with droves of intruders flying in from Pakistan.

The wave had damaged crops over lakhs of hectares after the swarm hit Rajasthan in May past year and later subsequent waves kept ravaging Western India.

There is an existing institutionalised mechanism for cooperation on such matters between India and Pakistan, including regular border meetings between Pakistani and Indian officers tasked with controlling the locust attack, the official noted.

A swarm of locusts in a residential area in Jaipur.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) warned that more invasions by the insects were likely from new areas and pose a "severe risk" to India's agriculture this year.

"In the coming months, desert locusts will continue breeding in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia".

There are worrying spillover consequences for South-west Asia.

Numerous area in the state capital witnessed massive locust swarms on Monday morning. "The current heatwave condition and delayed monsoon onset can be a blessing in disguise to control the locust breeding", said Mohanty. "There is also a possibility that they enter India directly from the Horn of Africa in July by crossing the sea with the help of winds".

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He further said that fortunately, Rabi crop has been harvested and Kharif sowing season is yet to arrive.

The UN estimates the swarms could be up to 20 times bigger than during the first invasion -and they could become 400 times bigger by June.

Talking to this scribe, agriculture expert Ramzan Sheikh said that the desert locust was one of about a dozen species of short-horned grasshoppers. According to Union Minister of Agriculture, Locust attacks so far have been controlled in close to 14,000 hectares huge crop fields in Punjab and Rajasthan.

The Press Trust of India reported last Thursday that New Delhi had proposed a trilateral approach to Pakistan and Iran to deal with the rapidly growing threat, besides offering pesticides.

Farmers and government officials have been spraying insecticides using tractors, drones and fire-mounted trucks.

It is one of the most devastating migratory pests in the world and it is highly mobile and feeds on large quantities of any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and fodder.

"Yesterday night, we have destroyed a swarm of about 6 KM in length and 1 KM in breadth". Even a tiny, one-square-kilometer locust swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people. Drones have been used to trace the hordes, and the deployment of specialised fireplace tenders outfitted with pesticide is being thought-about. "It is a once-in-a-three-decade situation and timed very badly for us as we are already dealing with coronavirus".

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