Locusts have damaged crops in about 90,000 hectares (ha) in 20 districts of Rajasthan. A state official shared this information today, saying, locusts attacked crop fields in Sri Ganganagar, Nagaur, Jaipur, Dausa, Karauli and Swai Madhopur and left for Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Officials of the state agriculture department along with a team from the union government are adopting measures to kill or chase away locusts.
State Agriculture Department Commissioner Om Prakash said that the locusts damaged about 90,000 ha of agricultural land in 20 districts of the state. Of the total area affected, locusts damaged crops in about 4,000 ha of Sriganganagar and 100 ha in Nagaur.
The official said that the department had carried out locust control operations on 67,000 ha.
Om Prakash informed reporters that herds of locusts could travel 150 km a day at speeds of 15-20 km/h. Due to no crop in the fields, he said, they are targeting vegetable crops, trees and other available vegetation. He said that the main reason for locusts coming from Pakistan to India is that there are no wheat, rice or other cereal crops in the fields at this time.
These are desert locusts that came from Sudan and Ethiopia in Africa to India via Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.
Explaining locust control works, Om Prakash said that the state is using 800 tractors to neutralise the locust attack. He said that about 200 teams were surveying fields daily and distributing free pesticides among the farmers.
The official said that herds of locusts had recently entered some residential areas of Jaipur and attacked trees and houses, and, after a few hours, moved towards Dausa.
The district administration in Panna in Madhya Pradesh has taken to a unique measure to fend off the huge locust swarms invading farm lands. The district administration has started using blaring sirens to scare locusts away.
Panna agriculture officer said, “The locusts rested in Panna Tiger Reserve yesterday where they feasted upon wild plants and trees. This saved the loss of agricultural crops here. The way to prevent them from damaging crops is to create loud noises or to spray insecticides.”
Jhansi witnessed locusts over the last couple of days, with farmers reporting that they had been alerting a control room whenever they saw a swarm.
Jhansi district magistrate Andra Vamsi said farmers had been asked to contact the control room as sharing information is important.
“This is an emergency, and we need to remain vigilant. This swarm has come travelling through Iran, Pakistan, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Two days ago, a large number of locusts were killed following spraying of chemicals,” the DM said.
Meanwhile, the union agriculture ministry has deployed drones and advanced sprayers to remove locust swarms from the fields and prevent massive damages to acres of crop.