Swarms of locusts on Thursday entered farmlands in Maharashtra’s Nagpur and Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district, Hindustan Times reported. Locust Warning Organisation Deputy Director KL Gurjar told the newspaper that over the last three days, the wind direction has been favourable for these locusts to move towards Nagpur’s farmlands.
The locusts started entering villages in Prayagraj on Tuesday night and then began moving westward. They wreaked havoc in villages of Karchana block and destroyed almost all vegetable farms.
Between Monday and Tuesday, the swarms were seen in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli and Sonbhadra districts. They came to Prayagraj from Mirzapur.
The district administration sprayed chemicals with the help of fire tenders, and villagers banged utensils to drive away the insects.
Chief Development Officer, Prayagraj, Ashish Kumar told IANS that district officials, village heads and block-level teams had been trained and briefed about what should be done in case of an attack. “As no major crops have yet been planted, no major damage has been reported barring a few patches of vegetable crops,” Kumar said. “We are keeping a watch on the situation and have a buffer stock of chemicals. All neighbouring districts have also been alerted.”
Karchana’s Sub Divisional Magistrate, Akansha Rana, said they were doing their best to chase away the locusts. She said fields were being sprayed with chemicals and loud music was being played in open fields.
Rajasthan will send agriculture officers to Nagpur and Prayagraj to monitor the damage of crops. They will also prepare for the next round of locust attacks that are expected by mid-July.
Last week, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said that the locust threat will continue in India till July and at least seven states are likely to battle the infestation. Experts have warned of extensive crop losses if authorities fail to contain the fast-spreading swarms by this month.
In May, India stepped up its response to the country’s worst locust attack in decades. The swarms had speared into Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab after destroying crops in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
On May 27, the Ministry of Agriculture had said control operations have been stepped up and drones will be deployed for aerial spraying of insecticides in the affected states.