A teem of locusts on Wednesday and Thursday damaged crops in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadhra district, which borders Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The pest has devastated crops in six states, leading to the Centre issuing a locust warning to 16 states.
UP agriculture officials said that swarms of locusts entered Ghorawal area in Sonbhadra from Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon and ate vegetable crops in fields in several villages.
About 1,200 kms away in Bidar, Karnataka, farmers kept a vigil in farms, as the locust were expected to sneak in through western Maharashtra, where they reached on Tuesday. In Bangalore, agriculture minister B C Patil said based on wind direction as predicted by the weather department, the possibility of the locust swarm reaching Karnataka was remote. The locusts are said to be 450 km away from the border district of Bidar and Patil claimed that based on current information, “there is a 99.99% chance that it will not come to Karnataka. So farmers need not worry.”
Locust has affected around 100 districts in five states --- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra and they can reach another 12 in the next few weeks. Officials said another swarm from Pakistan is expected to enter India around mid-June, which would provide fuel to locust activity in the region.
Like Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand agriculture departments have set up district control rooms to coordinate locust control operations. The officials in these states said that drones have also been procured to spray chemicals and fire tenders and trackers with chemicals are on the standby for pest control operations.