First COVID-19 and now India under attack by deadly cropping eating locust swarms

indica News Bureau-

When it rains, it pours. As the saying goes, India is facing yet another urgent crisis which they can’t afford to postpone.

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, India and Pakistan are ravaged by an invasion of the desert locust. It sounds almost like an ancient curse from Egypt.

Massive swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across western and central India, spearing into Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab now, after Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana, as the government said it has stepped up its response to the country’s worst locust attack in nearly three decades.

Why is this a crisis?

Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation. They devour leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, and growing points, and also destroy plants by their sheer weight as they descend on them in massive numbers.

A small swarm of the desert locust eats on an average as much food in one day as about 10 elephants, 25 camels, or 2,500 people.

That’s why the Indian government has been quick to address the issue, wasting no time conducting containment measures using specialized spraying machines. Currently, sprinkling operations have been conducted, in 303 locations spread over more than 47,000 hectares till Wednesday in 20 districts of Rajasthan, nine in Madhya Pradesh, two in Gujarat, and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, sources in the Agriculture Ministry said.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar is closely monitoring the situation and held three meetings with state agriculture ministers and representatives of pesticide companies, officials said. The government is also inviting tenders for drones for aerial spraying of insecticides.

Locus attacks are not new, but what makes this attack more noteworthy is the time that it is happening. Plagued by an economic slowdown and Covid-19 lockdown, the Indian economy is already on the edge. If unchecked, the insects will wipe out tons of food grains and vegetables meant for human consumption.

While experts hope that things will improve after a vaccine for the novel coronavirus comes into the market, an agrarian crisis due to locust attack will throw the government’s plans off-balance.