The locust attack in Gujarat’s farms

  Aug 05, 2020

The locust attack in Gujarat’s farms

Why in news?

The massive locust attack of December 2019 has affected about 25,000 hectares of land in two of the worst-hit North Gujarat districts of Banaskantha and Patan. Farmers to get Rs 18,500 as relief assistance following the worst locust attack in two decades.

What are the crops attacked by locusts?

Kharif crops like groundnut, castor and cotton and rabi crops like mustard, cumin and wheat had been impacted along with poptatoes.

What is locust, their nature and the extent of damage locusts can cause?

The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), is a polyphagous feeder (eating a large variety of plants). Nature and Occurrence:

  1. Desert areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana are prone to swarms,
  2. From May to November when desert locust activity is considered at its peak due to congenial breeding conditions.
  3. This coincides with the monsoon season in Rajasthan and Gujarat
  4. The locust menace is a natural occurrence which varies in intensity every year. The locusts remain inactive during evening and morning.
  5. Most swarms enter Gujarat through Rajasthan and Pakistan, riding on the wind to travel across large distances. 
  6. India is most at risk of a swarm invasion just before the onset of the monsoon. The swarms usually originate in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.
  7. The climate and the wind directions provide support to the locust movement and allow them to spread.

Extent of damage

The locust division under the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, says that a small swarm of locusts, eats on average as much food in one day as about 10 elephants, 25 camels or 2500 people.

What are chemicals used to contain them?

hazardous - highly toxic chemical - 96 per cent malathion, and Chlorpyrifos (CPS) 20 per cent and 50 per cent for sprayers.

How does India monitor locust swarms?

The Locust Warning Organization LWO (comprising of all field units), a central government body responsible for issuing warnings and monitoring and controlling locust attacks, undertakes regular surveys in the scheduled desert area of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, which are prone to swarms, to monitor the presence of desert locusts and ecological conditions.

These surveys are done regularly during the entire year, but most importantly from May to November.