Other States

Locust swarms attack crops in Madhya Pradesh

Dead locusts coat a road after pesticides were sprayed.

Dead locusts coat a road after pesticides were sprayed.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

First such invasion since 1992-93

Six swarms of locust entered Madhya Pradesh on May 17 from Rajasthan but have caused minimal crop damage so far as fields lie fallow. This is the first such invasion since 1992-93 when the swarm was much smaller, said the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Department.

“Due to lockdown, farmers in Rajasthan, who are aware about their movement, couldn’t possibly kill them in time. It’s a yearly phenomenon which was stymied each year before it reached Madhya Pradesh,” Avnish Chaturvedi, Deputy Director, Agriculture Department, told The Hindu.

The swarms, which could be 1-2 km to 10-12 km long and 1.5-2 km wide, move around 100-150 km every day during daylight in the wind direction. Around late evening, they settle around greenery and attack it. “Fortunately there are no crops in Madhya Pradesh at this time of the year,” said Mr. Chaturvedi.

District-level teams

The State government has set up district-level teams comprising revenue, police and agriculture officials to track the swarms during the day. “After they settle somewhere around 7-8 p.m., we mobilise our local resources there. The most effective time to kill locust, using pesticide, is between 3 a.m. until around 9 a.m. when it files away,” he said.

Mr. Chaturvedi admitted that once the humidity increased and crops were sown, controlling the swarms would be a challenge. “We are yet to take a crop damage assessment,” he said.

On May 21, a swarm settled at a village in Neemuch district, which borders Rajasthan. Another descended on three villages in Ujjain district, and the third one on another three villages in the district. In Sheopur district, one swarm descended on a village.

In all the cases, authorities mobilised tractor-mounted pumps and fire tenders to spray pesticide. Central locust control teams are also aiding efforts.

Another swarm descended on two villages in Ratlam district where 65-70% control was achieved.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 9:34:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/locust-swarms-attack-crops-in-mp/article31653940.ece

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