As per the instructions of Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, continuous action is being taken to control locust swarms. Starting from 11th April, 2020 till 9th July, 2020, control operations have been done in 1,51,269 hectares area in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana by Locust Circle Offices (LCOs). Till 9th July, 2020, control operations have also been done in 1,32,660 hectares area in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar by State Governments.
In the intervening night of 9th-10th July, 2020, control operations were carried out at 16 places in 8 districts viz. Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, and Karauli of Rajasthan, 2 places in Bhuj district of Gujarat and at 1 place each in Auraiya and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh by LCOs. Besides this, respective State Agriculture Department/s also carried out control operations at 1 place in Alwar district in Rajasthan; and at 1 place each in Auraiya and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh the intervening night of 9th-10th July, 2020 against small groups and scattered population of locusts.
Presently 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deputed /deployed in State of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations. In addition, 20 spray equipments have now been received.
To strengthen the control capacity, supply order was issued for procurement of 55 additional vehicles and out of which 33 were already delivered earlier. The remaining 22 vehicles have also been now received.
Further, 5 companies with 15 drones are deployed at Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Nagaur and Phalodi in Rajasthan for effective control of locusts on tall trees and in inaccessible areas through spraying of pesticides.
Aerial spraying capacity has been strengthened for anti-locust operations. A Bell helicopter has been deployed in Rajasthan for use in Scheduled Desert Area as per the need. The Bell helicopter conducted anti-locust spraying aerial spraying operation in Bhopalgarh and Shekhala area of Jodhpur. Indian Air Force also has conducted trials in anti-locust operation by using a Mi-17 helicopter. The results are encouraging.
Swarms of immature pink locusts and adult yellow locusts are active in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, and Karauli of Rajasthan; Bhuj district of Gujarat and Auraiya and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh.
No significant crop losses have been reported in the States of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan.
As per the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Locust Status Update of 03.07.2020, many of the spring-bred swarms that migrated to Indo-Pak border before the monsoon rains, some continued east to northern states of India and a few groups reached Nepal. The forecast is that these swarms will return to Rajasthan with the start of the monsoon in the coming days to join other swarms still arriving from Iran and Pakistan, which is expected to be supplemented by swarms from the Horn of Africa in about mid-July. Early breeding has already occurred along the Indo-Pak border where substantial hatching and band formation will take place in July that will cause the first-generation summer swarms to form in mid-August.
Weekly virtual meeting on Desert Locust of South-West Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) is being organised by FAO. 15 virtual meetings of the technical officers of South West Asian countries have taken place so far.