Several states in northern India, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are facing one of the worst locust attacks, adding to their worries during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to agro experts, this is the most severe locust attack in nearly 26 years which threatens to destroy crops and disrupt food security in the country. Overseas, Kenya faces its worst attack of locusts in 70 years, while Ethiopia and Somalia are battling worst invasion in 25 years.
Swarms of locusts have entered Rajasthan's Jaipur and parts of Maharashtra and Delhi, posing a big risk to standing crops, plants and trees. These locusts, which came from Pakistan, have already caused large scale destruction of over at least 5,00,000 hectares of land in Rajasthan, mostly in western and eastern part of the state.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has forecasted losses to agriculture from locusts this year could be as much as $2.2 billion for winter crops like wheat and potatoes and about $2.88 billion for summer crops of cotton, sugarcane and rice.
Also Read: India faces worst locust swarm attack in decades: What does it mean for agri economy?
The locusts, which bred and matured in Iran and Pakistan's Balochistan, are one of the oldest migratory pests that belongs to species of grasshoppers. Locusts swarms can fly up to 150 km in a day and each locust can eat around two grams of crop i.e. equivalent to its own weight. These swarms destroy crops and thereby disrupting the entire agricultural economy is what is commonly referred to as locust plague.
Here are key facts on Locusts:
India has reached out to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Africa for a joint effort to contain the spread of locusts which pose a major threat to food security in the region. A high-level virtual meeting on desert locusts in Southwest Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) was held on March 11, 2020 in New Delhi, India.
By Chitranjan Kumar with inputs from United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
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