New Delhi: The desert locust invasion, which poses a significant threat to the livelihoods and food security, is expected to move from East Africa to India and Pakistan next month and could be accompanied by other swarms, a top official of the UN’s food and the agricultural agency has warned. Also Read - India-China Border Standoff: After New Delhi, Beijing Rejects Trump’s Mediation Offer; Committed to Peace, Says Chinese Defence Ministry
The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering one square kilometre can contain up to 80 million locusts. Also Read - No Recent Contact Between PM Modi And Trump Over India-China Border Row, Last Conversation on April 4: Govt Sources
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO’s) Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman said: “Everybody knows we’re facing one of the worst desert locust situations that we’ve probably had in a number of decades.” Also Read - COVID-19: Over 7,400 Cases Reported in Last 24 Hours, Biggest Single-Day Spike so Far; Total Tally Crosses 1.65 Lakh | Key Points
“It’s obviously being focused at the moment on East Africa, where it”s extremely vulnerable in terms of livelihoods and food security but now in the next month or so it will expand to other areas and will move (towards)…West Africa. And it will move across the Indian Ocean to India and Pakistan,” Cressman said during a virtual briefing on Thursday on the FAO Desert Locust Appeal amid the new threat to Southwest Asia and Africa’s Sahel region.
Currently, the locust invasion is most serious in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, southern Iran and in parts of Pakistan and starting in June, it will move from Kenya to throughout Ethiopia, as well as to Sudan and perhaps West Africa.
What India is planning
India has proposed to Pakistan and Iran for a coordinated approach in dealing with the alarming threat of fast-increasing desert locusts in the region, official sources said on Thursday. However, Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s proposal while Iran communicated its readiness for a joint approach to contain the desert locusts.
Officials in Jaipur said this week that locust outbreaks may affect more Rajasthan districts adjoining Pakistan this year as compared to the previous one.
The Rajasthan government has made an emergency plan to deal with it and preparations are being made to spray insecticides from drones in remote inaccessible areas for effective control measures, they said.
State Agriculture Minister Lalchand Kataria on Monday reviewed locust control, kharif procurement process and Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme with officials.
Six border meetings between the Locust officers led by Plant Protection Advisers of India and Pakistan are held every year (June to November) either at Munabao in Indian side and at Khokhropar in Pakistan side for exchanging information on locust situation of both the countries. Wireless communication between India and Pakistan is also maintained every year during June to November for exchange of locust information between the two countries.
There is consensus that the Desert Locust could pose a grave challenge in 2020. In March, the Minister of State in Agriculture Ministry Kailash Choudhary participated in a South West Asian Region virtual meeting coordinated by FAO to discuss regional cooperation to combat desert locust problem.