Agriculture World

Helicopter Services launched by Union Agriculture Minister to fight locust

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
Saumy Deepak Tripathi

A bell helicopter equipped with spray equipment was launched by Union Agriculture and Famers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar from a helipad facility in Gautam Buddh Nagar Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The helicopter will fly for Air ForceStation at Uttarlai, Barmer where it will be deployed for locus control. The areas it will cover are Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, and Nagaur.

The helicopter can carry 250 litres of spray in one trip and can cover about 25 to 50-hectare area in one flight. The helicopter was launched after getting all the clearances from DGCA and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The minister said that after a gap of 26 years the locust attacks happened last year which was effectively controlled by the State and Central government. He said that there were early warnings that the locust swarms that would attack the country would be huge and that prepared the government to prepare for it in advance and the concerned states are utilizing SDRF funds to tackle the problem. Drones were used for the first time and now helicopters were being used to combat the locusts. He also informed that order has been placed for five aerial spraying machines from a UK-based company, and once these are received, they will be deployed in helicopters and pressed into operation for locust control

The Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Kailash Choudhary, Member of Parliament and former Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, and Secretary, Agriculture Sanjay Agarwal were also present.

After the cabinet secretary reviewed the situation on 27th May the Ministry of Civil Aviation was directed to assist the Ministry of Agriculture and Famers’ Welfare and an empowered committee was formed.

The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare approached five companies to provide services of drones for locust control at 5 drones per company on the recommendations of the empowerment committee.

Presently major strategy of locust control is through 60 control teams with spray equipment mounted vehicles and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in such operations in states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Locust Warning Organization (LWO) and ten Locust Circle Offices (LCOs) of Government of India are situated in Rajasthan (Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Phalodi, Barmer, Jalore, Churu, Nagaur, Suratgarh) and Gujarat (Palanpur and Bhuj), who primarily monitor, survey and control Desert Locust in two lakh square kilometre Scheduled Desert Area of Rajasthan and Gujarat. For effective control of locust beyond Scheduled Desert Areas, temporary control camps of LCOs have been established in Jaipur, Ajmer in Rajasthan, Shivpur in Madhya Pradesh, Fazilka in Punjab and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation in their update on 27.06.2020 had said that swarms of locust will migrate from Northern Somalia to India via Pakistan. Furthermore, the report also cautioned that swarms had started to lay eggs in Sindh, Pakistan.

Virtual meetings between agricultural officers of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India were taking place weekly in which information is shared regarding the locust movement.

Total area controlled in States as on 28th June 2020

Sl. No.

Name of State

No. of Districts

Area Treated (ha.)

1.        

Rajasthan

31

2,13,173

2.        

Punjab

01

640

3.        

Gujarat

05

1070

4.        

Madhya Pradesh

40

15533

5.        

Maharashtra

04

1435

6.        

Uttar Pradesh

13

1398

7.        

Chhattisgarh

01

82

8.        

Bihar

04

41

9.        

Haryana

02

115

 

Total

101

2,33,487

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