Agri Business

Locusts shift gear, spread to new areas

Rutam VoraRahul Wadke Ahmedabad/Mumbai | Updated on May 26, 2020

Pest invasion Swarms of locusts ravage farmland and vegetable fields in Narkhed village, around 45 km from Nagpur, in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra   -  S Sudershan

In an unusual trajectory, swarms of locusts have invaded West and Central India. Ground reports from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra indicate that armies of locusts have taken a new flight path to non-scheduled desert areas, posing a challenge to the authorities.

An agriculture department official in Rajasthan confirmed that locusts had swarmed Central, West and Southern parts of the State.

Unusual flight path

“They entered from the Pakistan border and moved toward Jaisalmer and started moving in different directions across the State. Two days back, it was sighted in Hindaun-Karoli region in Estern Rajasthan, from where they moved towards Jhansi in Madhya Pradesh. Another swarm went north from Ganganagar towards Ludhiana in Punjab. There has not been any report of damage to crops so far,” the official told BusinessLine.

The area of locust infestation in the country is spread across 2.05 lakh sq km, mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.

“There is no report of any damage to farms because there is no standing crop at present. Farmers and local authorities are trying to chase them away using chemicals, and other traditional methods,” said Vitthal Dudhatara, President, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), Gujarat region.

The new flight path of the insects to non-scheduled desert areas is posing a threat to vegetation and summer crops in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and even Maharashtra.

Attack in Maharashtra

In the first recorded attack in Maharashtra in the current year, the ravenous pests landed at the orange growing belt around Katol near Nagpur. Vegetable crops such as okra and brinjal have also been affected in the region, which shares boundary with Madhya Pradesh.

Katol taluk is about 60 km from Nagpur and a part of the orange belt of Maharashtra.

Since Monday, the State Agriculture Department along the farmers have been spraying chemicals for tackling the menace. State Agriculture Officer, Milind Shende, who has been helping farmers with the spraying process, told BusinessLine that they have damaged orange trees and vegetable fields.

Orange grower Prashnat Wankhede from Hatala village near Katol said the locusts had eaten the upper leaves of orange trees. Since the trees had just flowered, the yield will dip in September when the fruits are ready for harvesting.

Published on May 26, 2020

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