Another locust attack incoming? Govt buys drones, special equipment to tackle insect swarms

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Published: February 20, 2020 11:45 AM

In a single day, a small swarm of locusts can consume crops that could feed as much as 35,000 people.

Locust, Locust attack, Locust Plague, India locust, Drones, Insecticide, Locust crop damage, Oilseed, Wheat, Locust sprayer, Locust attack India, Swarms of locust, Pakistan, Indian Ocean, east Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Locust invasion A desert locust is seen feeding on a plantation in a grazing land on the outskirt of Dusamareb in Galmudug region, Somalia. (Courtesy: Reuters photo)

To curb the rising menace of locusts that ravage crops in the Western regions of the country, India is buying customised equipment and specialist drones, a Reuters report said. Delhi is sending senior officials to monitor the situation and also mulling the spray of insecticides to pre-emptively tackle the recurrence of a recent incident where locust swarms caused wide-spread damage to crops like oilseeds and wheat. The report quoted unnamed senior officials as saying that a large quantity of insecticides was being kept ready and drones and sprayers were being bought to ensure that there is no repeat of the earlier locust attack.

Also Read: Locust-hit Pakistan may make exception to trade freeze with India to import insecticides, says report

The report states that swarms of locust can fly up to 150 kilometers per day in the direction of the wind, and an adult locust can consume up to its own weight in fresh food every day. In a single day, the report says, a small swarm of locusts can consume crops that could feed as much as 35,000 people. Pakistan has called an emergency after being ravaged by a locust attack that is the worst plague that the country has seen in the last two decades. Several other countries over the Indian Ocean in east Africa like Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan too have suffered locust attacks recently.

India and Pakistan have held several meeting to review the situation in the border areas and Indian authorities are monitoring the situation across the border closely. Civil servants have been sent to the north and western parts of the country that are considered vulnerable to locust swarms to assess the overall preparedness in the region.

On the issue of locust attacks, India hasn’t received any request for assistance from Pakistan, a senior official told Reuters, but unnamed officials of a pesticide company said they were prepared to supply insecticides if Pak asks for help and the Indian government allows. Villages in Gujarat and Rajasthan that are close to the border with Pakistan are particularly susceptible to locust invasion and the last major such locust plague was in the year 1993 when heavy rains along the border areas created situation favourable for locust breeding.

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