Agri-horti officials put on alert against locust attack

ITANAGAR, Jun 2: The agriculture & horticulture department has asked its officials to remain vigilant and alert, following locust attacks in several states of the country.
The department said locust swarms of around 80 crore individuals have entered India from Pakistan and another 35 crore are expected to enter the country by next month.
“These have caused widespread fear amongst the farmers in states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,” Agriculture & Horticulture Secretary Bidol Tayeng said in a release.
Tayeng on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the officials of the department to assess the situation.
A committee headed by the agriculture director was constituted to monitor the movement of the locusts and take preventive steps in the state.
“The environment in the Northeast or Arunachal Pradesh may not be very conducive for the locusts to attack, but the department of agriculture and horticulture is not taking any chance and decided to monitor and remain in full alert and in state of preparedness to counter the locust invasion,” Tayeng said.
The committee will keep watch on the movement of the locusts, alert the agriculture officers in the districts, conduct awareness meetings and prepare themselves for any eventuality.
Locusts are grasshoppers, bigger in size, and normally live and breed in semi-arid and desert regions. They move in swarms and can travel upto 150 kms in one day, depending on wind speed.
Locust swarms are capable of damaging a thousand hectares of crops a day, and may cause major agricultural famine situation. Locusts devour leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, barks and growing seeds, and also destroy plants by their sheer weight as they descend on them in massive numbers.
The locusts moved from the Gulf desert via Yemen, Oman, Iran and Pakistan, before entering India.
With no crops in the fields now, they have invaded green spaces, including parks in Jaipur and orange orchards near Nagpur, the release added.