Agri Business

Maharashtra govt urged to use aircraft for aerial spraying ops against locusts

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 28, 2020 Published on May 28, 2020

The All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has demanded that for the control of locusts in Maharashtra, pesticides be sprayed from small aircraft rather than vehicle-mounted spraying machines as vehicles cannot reach all the corners of the affected areas.

On Monday, Maharashtra faced the first wave of locust attacks. The swarms landed in the orange growing belt around Katol near Nagpur. Vegetable crops such as okra and brinjal were also eaten up by the ravenous pests. Katol taluk is about 60 km from Nagpur and a part of the orange belt of Maharashtra.

Use of aircraft

For controlling the locust meance, small aircraft are used in Rajasthan. In March, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations with funding support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) had leased two aircraft and two helicopters to scale up the aerial desert locust control operations in Ethiopia.

General Secretary (Maharashtra) of AIKS, Ajit Navale told BusinessLine that for large-scale spraying, aircraft should be used. Swarms of locusts cannot be handled from the ground. However, the State government is not favour of using aircraft.

Uneven topography

Navale pointed out that in Gujarat and Rajasthan, vehicle-mounted pesticide spraying is possible because the flat land there, but in Maharashtra, the land is uneven and not suitable for such a method of spraying.

On the other hand, a senior agriculture scientist believes that just spraying toxic chemicals will not solve the problem.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the scientist said the scientific community needs to acknowledge that despite a large number of locust being killed by the sprays, many survive and multiply. Chemicals also come at a cost to the environment.

 

Alternative methods such as the use of entomopathogenic fungi, neem oil and mineral oils should also be used for better results. There is also a need to set up a task force for the use of integrated pest management for control of locusts, the scientist said.

Published on May 28, 2020
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