Agriculture World

LOCUST ALERT! This Insect is Likely to Threaten India's Upcoming Kharif Crop Season

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher
Locust Attack

There are visuals of locust swarms invading cities in Rajasthan and travelling as far as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh over the past few weeks. Though, locust incursions are common for border state of Rajasthan and Gujarat between the months of July and October, 2020 was unusual for the early arrival of trans-boundary swarms.

As per some experts what India should be most worried about is the latest forecast issued by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO). As per the FAO forecast of 27 May, “Many successive waves of invasions can be expected (in India) until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar & Odisha followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon."

FAO has specifically forecast that between 22 June and 19 July, locust swarms will travel to India directly from their spring breeding habitats in East Africa (Somalia, Ethopia and Kenya), West Asia (Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen), Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is also an added threat of summer breeding along the India-Pakistan border.

Locust swarms are unlikely to pose a grave threat to India’s rain-fed kharif crop season with effective control in the Indian border states. Hence, unlikely to jeopardise food grain production. However, farmers in states of Rajasthan, Gujarat & parts of Punjab might have to pay a heavy price due to localised losses.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Scientists are confident that desert locusts will not have any important impact in the coming months. “In April & May locusts arrived following conducive spring rains in east Africa, Baluchistan and Iran (which aided breeding). S.N. Sushil, an entomologist & former plant protection advisor at the agriculture ministry said, the swarms have moved beyond India’s border areas in search of food aided by westerly winds which is unlikely to happen in June and July. India is well positioned to control locusts besides profuse summer breeding which is likely from July and October along the India-Pakistan border.

Source: Livemint

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