CHENNAI: The locust attack in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have raised apprehensions of the locust swarms moving to Tamil Nadu in the coming days as they move along a downwind direction. However, quoting history and with the confirmation from Locust Warning Centre in Jodhpur, the State Agriculture department officials assure that there is no threat to Tamil Nadu. However, to face any eventuality, in advance, the department has released an advisory on how to contain the locust menace.
“Tamil Nadu government has discussed the issue with the senior officers of the Government of India and the scientists of the Locust Warning Centre. They assure that it will not cross Vindhya Sathpura mountains. In the past, the locusts never spread beyond the Deccan Plateau. Hence we assess that there are very remote chances of locust swarm attack in Tamil Nadu. However we are constantly monitoring the locust swarm movement,” a top official of the State government told Express.
As a precaution, the State government has issued an advisory explaining the methods to control the desert locusts. Spraying environmental friendly neem-based pesticides, mass ground spray of Malathion pesticides using tractor-mounted sprayers and fire engines and spraying bio-pesticide metarhizium anisopliae are some of the ways to eliminate this menace. Besides, birds and poultry birds which eat this locust can also be used to control the locust swarms.
The officials said so far, in Rajasthan 33 districts have been affected by the locust swarms. The locust swarms which attacked the western Rajasthan districts adjoining the Pakistan border, due to flow of wind, has now spread to Jaipur and in Madhya Pradesh Panna Tiger Sanctuary of the Central part of the country. After a period of 26 years, the locust swarm attack occurred during May 2019 and continues till now.
The Rajasthan government has estimated that 6.70 lakh hectares of agricultural crops have been affected by locust swarms and has caused damage to crops worth Rs.1000 crore. The locusts can assess the location of crops at harvest stage and fly as a swarm in the direction of wind and cause severe damage to crops. The locusts originate from desert areas adjoining Iran and Afghanistan. A desert locust swarm of one square kilometer contains four crore locusts which can eat and destroy crops to the tune of 80,500 kg, within a single night.