Swarms of locusts entered some residential areas of Jaipur on Monday before heading towards Dausa district in Rajasthan, officials said, as fears rise over how another attack by the insects will impact agriculture and livelihoods in India.
Agriculture department officials were quoted by The Indian Express as saying that this is the first time since the early 1990s that locust swarms from Western Rajasthan have made their way into Jaipur.
The menace of locust has spread to 18 districts of Rajasthan and they are rapidly travelling in search of food, Om Prakash, commissioner of state agriculture department, told PTI.
Prakash said that the swarms were in Nagaur and reached Jaipur on Sunday. They were seen in residential areas of the city on Monday and then they moved towards Dausa.
Another official was quoted by PTI as saying that there are no standing crops to feed on and therefore, the swarms are travelling farther and damaging trees.
Here are five things to know about the latest locust attack:
1. Swarms of locusts entered India through Rajasthan on April 11 and have already affected at least five states in India. From Rajasthan, locusts entered Madhya Pradesh via Neemuch, according to India Today. The Union environment had said last week that swarms have also entered Punjab and Haryana. Maharashtra has also been affected by the locust attack.
Punjab has also put its farmers on alert. Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts have been issued directions to activate control rooms, have coordination meetings and form teams for field surveys, according to The Tribune.
Hindustan Times said that an alert has also been sounded for Delhi.
2. A swarm of desert locusts has entered the eastern part of Maharashtra. Joint director of agriculture Ravindra Bhosale told PTI on Monday that the swarm of desert locusts entered the state from Amravati district. It then went to Wardha and now it is in Nagpur’s Katol tehsil, the official added.
A team from the regional centre of the Central Integrated Pest Management Centre has started spraying chemicals on crops and plants near the Jalalkheda bypass where the insects have been located, he said.
3. This is the second round of locust attacks in India, Livemint said. The first one occurred in the December-February months over 2019 and 2020. The report also said that scientists are blaming the higher frequency of cyclones originating in the Indian ocean in 2019 for the increase in locust attacks this year.
“A swarm does not travel in the night. The migratory pests travel during the day time and fly as per the wind direction,” Bhosale told PTI. “Locusts are very dangerous to all types of vegetation. They feed on green leaves and are known for devouring crops spread across on acres of land.”
4. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has warned of more attacks and risk along both sides of the India-Pakistan border.
“As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as several waves from now until at least early July. Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the India-Pakistan border that would allow egg-laying to occur. This should reduce the further eastward movement of swarms that have already arrived in Rajasthan,” FAO said in its 21 May update.
5. India has allowed the use of drones to control locust attacks. Aviation Secretary PS Kharola permitted the agriculture ministry to use the remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), according to The Times of India. The drones will be used for aerial surveillance and spraying pesticides, ETtech said.
(With PTI inputs)