A change in wind direction has helped Delhi avoid the infestation of swarms of desert locust for the moment. However, with new swarms continuing to emerge from across India-Pakistan border, the threat continues.
The South Eastern direction of the wind has taken the progress of locust swarms towards Madhya Pradesh, a senior official of India's Locust Control Office (LCO) has informed. The official also said that hundreds of government staff - over 200 from LCO, along with state agriculture department officials and farming communities in areas where locust swarms settle down for the evening are working hard to find the movement of locusts for the next day.
"In a night long effort, our teams have controlled five locust swarms by today (May 27) morning in various parts of Rajasthan. Similar efforts will go on in every location where locust swarms settle for night. It gets almost controlled in four to five days", the official said. In addition to Rajasthan, locust movement has been reported from or are expected in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Depending on the wind speed, locusts can move over 150 kms in a day in the direction of the wind during day time. It settles down on nearby vegetation by sunset, and can consume every green shoot or crop in the vicinity.The current trajectory of locust movement from Rajasthan is towards Madhya Pradesh and going further southwards towards Maharashtra. The LCO has been fighting the locust challenge for more than two weeks now. While India has been witnessing locust movement in such magnitude after several decades, the timing has helped reduce the damage it can cause to the crops. "Normally it happens in the month of July. This time, it is a month early and fortunately, there are no standing crops in India at the moment. All crops have been harvested, and Khariff crop sowing is yet to begin", the official said.
What has triggered the locust movement is the large scale breeding of locusts that happened in areas like Iran, Baluchistan and Pakistan.
The latest edition of the agriculture ministry's desert locust situation bulletin says that during the 1st fortnight of May 2020, immature adult groups/swarms were observed at Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Phalodi, Bikaner, Nagaur and and Ganganagar. "Out of 342 spots, control operation were undertaken at 213 spots covering 21,675 hectare area", it said.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations had warned, much in advance, about the spring breeding of desert locusts that continue in southern Iran and southwest Pakistan desipte ongoing control operations in those countries.
"As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as several waves from now until at least early July. Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the Indo-Pakistan border that would allow egg-laying to occur. This should reduce the further eastward movement of swarms that have already arrived in Rajasthan, India", FAO states.