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New Delhi, July 6, 2020
Chemical spraying by helicopter to control locust attack began in Jaisalmer district ofRajasthan on Saturday, the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Ministry has said.
In continuing control operations to check damage to crops from locust attacks, a Bell helicopter took off on its first sortie and completed its mission of chemical spraying in the targeted areas, thereby augmenting the locust control efforts, a press release from the Ministry said here on Sunday.
From April 11 to July 3, control operations were carried out in 1,35,207 hectares area in States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana by Locust Circle Offices (LCOs).
Control operations were undertaken in 1,13,215.5 hectares area in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar by the respective State Governments.
In the intervening night of July 3-4, control operations were carried out at 25 places in the six districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur and Dausa in Rajasthan and two places in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh by LCOs.
State Agriculture Departments also carried out control operations at four places in Jhansi and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh and at two places in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, in the intervening night of July 3-4 against small groups and scattered population of locusts.
No significant crop losses have been reported in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan.
Swarms of immature pink locusts and adult yellow locusts are active in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Dausa and Bharatpur of Rajasthan State and Jhansi and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh.
At present, 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deputed/deployed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations. Further, five companies with 12 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. India is the first country to use drones for locust control.
On May 21, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had granted a conditional exemption to the governmental entity for use of remotely piloted aircraft system for anti-locust operations subject to various terms and conditions. On June 27, the Ministry further relaxed the terms and conditions and permitted the use of engine-powered drone up to 50 kg and use of drones during night also for anti-locust operations.
As per the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Locust status update of July 3, of the spring-bred swarms that migrated to India-Pakistan 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.
A weekly virtual meeting on Desert Locust of South-West Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) is being organised by FAO. So far, 15 such virtual meetings of the technical officers of South-West Asian countries have taken place.