An outbreak of desert locusts in the villages of Rajasthan's Barmer district, adjoining the India-Pakistan border, has posed a threat to the crops. Swarms of locusts were detected in the villages of Tamlor, Gadra Road, Gudamalani and Sheo regions of the district over the weekend.
The Union Agriculture Ministry’s Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur, has launched efforts on a war footing to control locusts. Teams carrying equipment have been rushed to the villages to spray high-intensity malathion insecticide to prevent the spread of locusts to other areas.
The LWO has set up a helpline for farmers in the State. An attack of locusts, flying in from Pakistan's Sindh province, was reported in Ramdeora-Pokhran region of Jaisalmer district during May this year. The last major outbreak of locusts took place in Rajasthan in 1993, according to the LWO.
LWO Plant Protection Officer in Barmer, Mahesh Chandra, told The Hindu on Monday that a warning had been issued to all areas along the international border to keep an eye on the incoming swarms. “The spray of insecticide will prevent breeding of locusts, which is often witnessed in vegetation during rains after the drought spell,” Mr. Chandra said.
Invading through Thar
The tropical grasshoppers emerged in January this year from Sudan and Eritrea on Africa's Red Sea Coast and travelled through Saudi Arabia and Iran to enter Pakistan, where they invaded the cotton-producing belt of Sindh. The swarms of locusts are now entering the Thar desert, threatening the crops in western Rajasthan.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that more hatching and formation of hopper groups were expected in the coming weeks in Rajasthan, while the swarms of adult locusts would arrive from the “spring breeding areas”.