The Uttar Pradesh government has declared a state-wide alert after a massive army of locusts invaded farms in several districts, The Times of India reported on Monday. Uttar Pradesh is the third state after Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to have been affected by these crop-eating pests.
Authorities fear that the pests have affected crops in 17 districts of the state including Agra, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Etah, Kanpur and Mathura. “The swarm of locusts, which is moving, is small in size,” said Deputy Director Agriculture Kamal Katiyar. “We have got the news that nearly 2.5 to a 3-kilometre long swarm of locusts has entered the country. A team has come from Kota [Rajasthan] to tackle the locusts.”
The crop-eating pests had first entered Rajasthan from Pakistan in the second week of April. It destroyed crops in 18 districts of Rajasthan and a dozen in Madhya Pradesh. Last year, it had ravaged farms in North Gujarat, especially in the three border districts of Banaskantha, Patan and Kutch.
The Agra district administration has deployed 204 tractors equipped with chemical sprays to keep the pests at bay. The Jhansi district administration has directed the fire brigades to remain on standby with chemicals. “The villagers along with the common public has been told to inform control room about the movement,” said District Magistrate Andra Vamsi, according to India TV. “The locusts will go to the places where there is green grass or greenery. Hence, details about the movement at such places must be shared.”
Before Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh faced its biggest locust attack in 27 years, reported NDTV. The desert locusts entered the state through Neemuch district and then travelled to parts of Malwa Nimar. These locusts are now close to Bhopal.
The state agriculture department has asked farmers to make loud sounds through drums, banging of utensils and shouting. Four teams of the central government have been helping the state agricultural department to fight these pests by using chemical sprays.
With the latest attack, the country’s food security is at stake. Experts said that these swarms could destroy the standing moong cereal crop worth around Rs 8,000 crore, reported NDTV. The locusts may also ravage nurseries of fruits and vegetables. Cotton and chilly crops worth several thousand crores are also at risk of being ruined.