Even as the Prime Minister has assured farmers of help in fighting massive locust attacks, the early arrival of the desert locust swarms has set off alarms bells in the agriculture scientist and entomologist community. The community had expected a smaller infestation in June and July, but the early arrival has the community worried about the kharif sowing.
A senior scientist told BusinessLine that in a day, massive swarms can damage crops equal in volume to the amount of food consumed by 35,000 humans. Usually, smaller attacks happen between June and July, but this year, by early March mega swarms had started their destruction in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The damage to the crop by these ravenous eaters is equivalent to their weight.
Another unusual sign is its mega spread over North and West India. The swarms have travelled much beyond their traditional areas in Rajasthan and have reached States such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The last time Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had faced locust attacks was in 1993 and Maharashtra in 1974, the scientist said.
The scientist pointed out that climate change along with the May 2018 cyclone in Oman and Yemen, which dumped three years’ worth of rain in a single day, created much higher availability of water in the desert regions, which are breeding grounds of the locust. Such factors have led to an abnormal rise in locust population.
The scientist said that along with chemical pesticides, traditional methods such as burning of bunches of dried chilli or a sprinkling of chilli powder on the grass and then burning with oil can also be used by the farmers, as the strong toxic smell drives away the swarms.
In August 1993, India had to appeal to the Food and Agriculture Organisation for $1-million aid for fighting the locusts’ incursion, which at that time had also happened from Pakistan. Today, India is in a much better situation financially, the scientist added.
A letter from the Editor
The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.
Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.
In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.
We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.
But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.
I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.
A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!Support Quality Journalism