One of the most devastating migratory pests in the world, desert locusts feed on any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and fodder. It is a swarming short-horned grasshopper. Huge swarms of desert locusts are unleashing the worst locust attack that India has seen in nearly 3 decades.
WHAT IS THE ATTACK THAT INDIA IS FACING FROM DESERT LOCUSTS?
After ravaging through the Horn of Africa, swarms of desert locusts have traveled through Baluchistan, Iran, and Pakistan, and are now entering India.
Huge swarms of the same are destroying crops across western and central India, having decimated nearly 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of cropland already.
They were seen in the border districts of Rajasthan, around Suratgarh and Jaisalmer. So far, worst-affected districts are Barmer, Jaisalmer, and Nagaur. The swarms are now moving towards Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and border areas of Uttar Pradesh.
KL Gurjar, deputy director of India’s Locust Warning Organisation, told AFP –
“Presently, there is less risk to Delhi or its surrounding areas. After entering Rajasthan, they diverted towards Madhya Pradesh (MP). They have impacted large parts of Rajasthan, MP and some parts of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. But it could invade other areas, as and when the wind direction changes.”
This locust attack is not only expected to worsen in the coming months. It is also expected to exacerbate the agricultural crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The problem is clearly going to continue for the next four months at least and the government is capable of handling it. There may not be a food security crisis, but there is likelihood of livelihood crisis on those farms, which would be invaded by locusts. So, the government should not only use its resources to stop this menace from spreading, but also make provisions to compensate farmers whose farms are damaged by these pests,” said Ajayvir Jakhar, chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj, a farmers advocacy group.
The situation has been declared a national emergency in some countries, including Somalia and Pakistan.