Agri Business

Gujarat leaders join farmers with ‘homemade solutions’ to combat locusts

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on December 27, 2019 Published on December 27, 2019

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani (file photo)

CM Vijay Rupani assures compensation to farmers affected by the attack

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The saying goes well with the Gujarat government’s response to the massive locust attack - not seen in decades. Absence of an effective scientific method to combat the insects coupled with a delayed response from the State administration has put thousands of hectares of land at a risk.

After much uproar in the media and embarrassment on the social media over the last few days, some ruling party and Opposition leaders joined farmers in shooing away the locusts by beating the steel plates with sticks.

State BJP chief Jitu Vaghani and Member of Parliament Parbat Patel among other senior ruling party members were seen on the fields on Thursday, while Congress legislator Ashwin Kotwal used drums to combat the attack.

Separately, farmers and children are being provided ‘training’ and ‘knowledge’ by school principals and teachers to tackle the situation.

However, ever since the first sighting a few weeks ago, the farmers have been applying household solutions to combat the swarms — some burnt tyres or dry straws, played drums, musical DJs, put large fans besides beating the steel plates. The government has estimated that about 5,000 hectares of farmland as affected.

Commenting on why the government did not use the advanced technologies including large vehicles and choppers to sprinkle insecticide and contain the spread of locusts, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Parshottam Rupala stated that the pesticides (malathion in this case) are highly toxic and there is a bigger health risk if choppers are used to combat the menace.

“We are planning to experiment with drone. And also rope-in private players (to combat the attack),” Rupala said on Thursday. Now 11 Central teams have been sent to help the State administration tackle the menace.

The attack had seen its influx from December 14 with the swarm spanning the size of about 30-35 sq km.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, while assuring compensation to farmers, on Thursday said, “We have formed 27 teams, comprising Central and State government officials, to keep a watch on the movement of swarms and to spray pesticide. Till now we have sprayed pesticide over 1,815 hectares in Banaskantha.”

State officials, however, expressed apprehension about more locusts being present in neighbouring areas of Jalore district in Rajasthan and in Tharparkar desert of Pakistan.

“Though we have been able to kill around 25 per cent of locusts so far, it will take another four days for the teams to completely eliminate them. Looking at the wind patterns, it seems the locust swarms in Jalore and Tharparkar may not enter Gujarat,” said Punamchand Parmar, Additional Chief Secretary in the State Agriculture department.

Published on December 27, 2019
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