Already reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, Gujarat is now bracing for a possible locust attack, which could destroy standing crops in the field.
The state’s agricultural department has received a warning on the same from the Locust Control Office (LCO) of the Union agriculture ministry. According to agriculture department officials, around 33 teams in Banaskantha, 15 in Patan, and 10 in Mehsana districts have been formed to oversee the locust situation, apart from ensuring the supply of pesticides.
Locust swarms from Pakistan have already entered Rajasthan and are likely to fly further in two directions — towards northern parts of Gujarat, and Punjab.
According to C K Patel, research scientist at Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University (SDAU) in Banaskantha, standing summer crops of millet, groundnut, sweet potato, watermelon, green fodder, fruit, and vegetables, may get damaged.
The locust threat comes at a time when summer crop sowing has been around 110 per cent of last year’s figure because of better availability of water in northern parts of the state, said Patel.
The alert has been sounded for the next couple of days when the locust swarm may enter Gujarat. Villagers have been asked to inform concerned authorities of any sighting of locust swarms. Last year, a locust attack was witnessed from June to December in Banaskantha, Patan, and Mehsana, causing huge losses to farmers. The Gujarat government eventually granted them compensation to the tune of Rs 32 crore.
This year, the administration seems to be better prepared by keeping sufficient stock of pesticides.
“Last year, for months the locust outbreak continued. But now officials and farmers alike are better prepared. While farmers know what is the typical life cycle of the swarm and whom to approach for help, we have readied a stock of pesticides," said K L Meena, assistant director of LCO Palanpur.
Two kinds of pesticides are used to curb the locust menace. Though malathion, which is manufactured and supplied by Hindustan Insecticides, is more effective, it takes a toll on the crops. “Hence malathion is meant to be used in arid places where there are no standing crops and locust swarm are prevalent. On the other hand, to protect the crop while curbing the menace chlorpyrifos pesticide is used,” Meena said.
or reload the browser