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  4. Locust attacks in India: The Pakistan connection | EXPLAINED

Locust attacks in India: The Pakistan connection | EXPLAINED

Locust attacks have taken India by storm. States including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh are badly hit by locust swarms. But where did they come from? A Pakistani connection is the most talked of in this regard.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi Updated on: May 27, 2020 16:43 IST
A farmer looks back as she walks through swarms of desert
Image Source : (AP PHOTO/BEN CURTIS)

A farmer looks back as she walks through swarms of desert locusts feeding on her crops, in Katitika village, Kitui county, Kenya, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.

 

Locust attacks have taken India by storm. States including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh are badly hit by locust swarms. But where did they come from? A Pakistani connection is the most talked of in this regard. These insects are small in size but have the potential to cause great losses to the agriculture sector. They feed on nearly all green vegetation - leaves, flowers, bark, stems, fruit, and seeds. The crops that it eats include millet, rice, maize, sorghum, sugarcane, barley, cotton, fruit trees, date palm, vegetables, acacia, banana, pines, and rangeland grasses. 

Locust attacks in India: The Pakistan connection | EXPLAINED

Normally, locusts are sighted during July-October along the Pakistan border. It is said that desert locusts entered Rajasthan from adjoining areas in Pakistan that has become a new breeding ground of desert locusts, as pointed out by BR Kadwa, Deputy Director of the Agriculture department. "Swarms of locusts are entering Rajasthan from adjoining areas in Pakistan every 2-3 days for a month. Pakistan has become the new breeding ground of the locusts and hence we are seeing the repeated attacks of locusts in the state. Four swarms have entered Jaipur recently," he told ANI. He said that fortunately, Rabi crop has been harvested and Kharif sowing season is yet to arrive. Over half of the districts in Rajasthan have been covered by the swarms of locust which entered into India from Pakistan on April 11. 

Pakistan itself is going through third unprecedented wave of locust attacks. According to a report published in the Dawn, Pakistan Army dedicated 5,000 personnel in the anti-locust operation and 1,500 of them had been deployed in different provinces. Lt Gen Afzal, Pakistan's NDMA Chairman, said that Pakistan was facing locust attack after around 29 years, adding that almost all the plant protection departments were devoid of entomologists. The process to hire those experts on a one-year contract basis had been initiated. According to the chairman, the current locust attack was not in the category of swarms but in groups. They were locally bred and indigenous, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn

The range of desert locusts, a species of short-horned grasshoppers, is found between Africa and Asia. It was in 2019 when East African countries like Kenya saw frequent cyclones and heavy rainfall driven by climate change-related warming of the Arabian Sea. Scientists are of the view that these conditions proved to be ideal for breeding locusts. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, green vegetation and moisty sandy soils are favored for breeding by locusts. Apart from Africa, locust swarms also bred in Oman that witnessed heavy rainfall in 2019. The swarms have increased in number due to the rise in breeding and moved to Iran and Pakistan in search of food. The locust swarms in India have traveled from Iran and Pakistan into Rajasthan. In fact, this time the swarms have made their way into other states as well.

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