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Desert locusts, fall army worm invade crops in north, central, western India

“This kharif time is a full washout,” declares Vijay Kishan, a farmer of Kudi village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. The constant onslaught of desert locusts swarms around the past couple months has ravaged his early-stage bajra crop planted around 25 bighas (about 15 acres). The pesky invaders from Iran and Balochistan have also significantly ruined his moong and guar fields.

Kishan claims the cotton crop, which was planted early in May on about five-6 bighas, is his only hope now as the matured vegetation have withstood the locust assault to some extent. “I am hoping to get at the very least 50 % of the anticipated cotton crop if the intensity of the locust assault arrives down in the coming days,” claims Kishan, who has spent around ₹1.five lakh in cultivating his sixty-bigha plot. His cultivation prices have shot up this 12 months because of to the extra costs incurred on pest manage.

Kishan is among the the hundreds of farmers who have borne the brunt of the locust swarms that have steadily invaded north, central and areas of western India. As if the locusts menace, which is the worst due to the fact 1993, is not undesirable adequate, an infestation of tumble army worm (FAW) is now wrecking the kharif crop in Rajasthan.

Maize beneath threat, too

Even though the locusts pose a threat to crops this kind of as moong bean, pearl millet and cotton all through their early phases, FAW is becoming generally witnessed on maize.

In Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan, the FAW has attacked almost a fourth of the 88,000 odd hectares beneath maize, claimed an Agriculture Department official.

It is not just Rajasthan. FAW, which to start with surfaced in kharif 2018 in Karnataka, is a threat in other maize-escalating States like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as very well.


This 12 months, inspite of a bearish development in charges, there is an raise in the cultivation of maize. Farmers experienced planted maize on about fifty four lakh hectares till July ten, a 17 per cent raise around the previous 12 months. States reporting a increase in maize acreage include things like M.P., Karnataka, Punjab and Chhattisgarh. Despite the fact that the authorities machinery has swung into motion with drones and helicopters to battle the locust assault, agri experts sense it’s time to declare it a catastrophe. About sixty groups consisting of two hundred staff have been carrying out locust-manage functions on 3 lakh hectares across influenced States, but fears are that the harm will be comprehensive.

“The authorities really should declare the locust assault as a normal catastrophe so that farmers get some payment beneath the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY),” claimed Bhagirath Choudhary, Founder-Director, South Asia Biotechnology Centre, an agri-advocacy physique.

Extent of impression unclear

He details out that to handle FAW, farmers are pressured to incur an extra cultivation price tag of ₹1500 per acre, which would harm their earnings. Previously, the bearish maize charges have strike the farmers’ profitability. In the meantime, because of to the Covid lockdown, it’s tricky to get a entire photo of how terribly are the maize crops influenced.

“We have been acquiring studies of FAW infestation from across significant maize-developing States, but because of to Covid, an assessment of the impression on the space has not been achievable so far,” claimed A N Shylesha, Principal Scientist at the ICAR – Nationwide Bureau of Agricultural Insect Sources (NBAIR). Previous 12 months, FAW experienced strike maize in 7.18 lakh hectares.


Farmers in vital maize developing belt of Karnataka’s Chitradurga and Davangere claimed that no substantial-scale infestation has been reported so far. But States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are not getting a chance and are producing awareness among the farmers to manage FAW. “We are getting precautionary actions and have stocked up the chemicals utilized to manage the pest,” claimed A Srinivas, Director, Karnataka Agriculture Department.

Progressive farmers seem to be heeding these advisories heading by the profits of chemicals. “There is an raise in orders from farmers in M.P., Chhattisgarh and UP among the others for chemicals and bio-manage brokers — generally neem and fungal formulations. We have also acquired orders from farmers in Rajasathan for locust-manage chemicals,” claimed Sateesh Nukala, CEO and Co-Founder, BigHaat, an on the web agri-enter vendor.

They will need all the chemical weapons they can muster in their armoury as another invasion is forecast. Swarms of locusts breeding in the Horn of Africa are probable to arrive at India and Pakistan in the next couple months.