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Worst locusts attack destroying crops in Rajasthan! State govt asks for centre’s help

The last locust outbreak was reported in 1993 when the state’s Agriculture Department had carried out preventive measures on 3,10,482 lakh hectares affected land

Eleven Rajasthan districts are facing the worst locust attack after 26 years with control measures being taken on 3.70 lakh hectare affected land and an official urging international cooperation to deal with the menace.

The last locust outbreak was reported in 1993 when the state’s Agriculture Department had carried out preventive measures on 3,10,482 lakh hectares affected land, whereas control measures on 3.70 lakh hectare land have been done till January 12 so far, he said.

“It is one of the worst locust attack that Rajasthan is facing this time. Locust attack started this year from May 21 and is still continuing. So far, control measures have been done on 3.70 lakh hectare affected land by spraying 2.60 lakh litre melathion. This is a problem which requires immediate international cooperation,” Suwa Lal Jat, Joint Director (Plant Protection), said.

He said that locust attack generally starts in June-July and lasts till October end or November-mid but it has been eight months from now that it is still continuing, adding that the presence of locust population has been seen on the international border with Pakistan, which still poses danger.

The Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur, said locust attack is the biggest and longest running phenomenon.

“It is the biggest locust attack in the last four or five decades. Last big attack was seen in 1993 and the affected area span has already surpassed it this time. It is a challenge for the coming months as well because the presence of locusts in the Gulf countries, including Iran and Pakistan, is alarming and summer breeding of locusts is also approaching,” LWO Deputy Director K L Gurjar said.

The 11 affected districts where control measures have been taken include Jaisalmer 2 lakh hectare, Barmer 80,000 hectare, Bikaner 80,000 hectare, Sriganganagar 5,000 hectare, Jalore 1,500 hectare, Hanumangarh 800 hectare, Nagaur-Churu 500 hectare each, Pali-Sirohi 400 hectare each and Dungarpur 50 hectare.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had written a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, seeking the Centre’s assistance on the matter.

On December 30, Gehlot had announced to conduct girdawari (survey) for the assessment of loss caused to crops due to locust attack in Western Rajasthan.

On Saturday, the chief minister had asked officials to start distribution of compensation to farmers on loss to crops due to locust attack.

Jat said the unusual phenomenon is being investigated by the scientists of five agriculture universities of the states who are taking samples in the affected areas.

“The teams of scientists are taking samples in the affected areas to study locust habitats. They are examining whether the reason is climate change or global warming or anything else,” he said.

He said that 54 teams of the Agriculture Department are surveying and monitoring the situation, 450 tractors with mounted sprayers are being pressed into service to control the menace, besides an additional fleet of 500-700 tractors received per day with the support of people.

Source: Financial Express

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