India, Pakistan and Iran are currently have proved to be the victim of the Locust Plague which can be devastating for the agriculture and thus declining the economy of the country.
A sudden movement of swarm of locust has been reported in the outskirts of Jhasi in Uttar Pradesh district on 23rd May. The district administration is on high alert and is prepared to fight with the new threat knocking on India’s door. According to reports, a 2.5 to 3 km long swarm of locust has entered the country.
What are locusts?
Locusts have been feared and revered throughout history. Related to grasshoppers, these insects form enormous swarms that spread across regions, damaging crops and leaving serious agricultural damage in their wake. These insects are essentially harmless until they meet certain circumstances and face a serious behavioral change. Plagues of locusts have devastated societies and they still wreak havoc today. When they are under favorable environmental condition their breeding rate multiple at an abundant rate , forming swarms. With the dense population,these locust of swarms travel large distance and destroy the agriculture crops. Thus affecting the agricultural economy, known as Locust Plague.
What is Locust Swarming?
Locust are basically of four types desert locust, migratory locust, Bombay Locust and tree locust. The one entered in India is the desert locust. They start swarming under damp environment condition and series of strong rain.
Their breeding rate is so faster that they can spread in millions when meet favorable condition.
Locust swarms can cover vast distance in motion and can stay in the air for long periods. Since they travel in search of new food, the crops and extensive agricultural land becomes their home and thus consuming the entire vegetation. In 1954, a locust swarm blowed from northwest Africa to Great Britain, while in 1988, another made the lengthy slog from West Africa to the Caribbean, a trip of more than 3,100 miles in just 10 days.
The agricultural damage caused by Locust swarms can devastate crops leading to famine and starvation. Locusts are most destructive in subsistence farming regions of Africa.And the most recent victims of this plague can be India, Pakistan and Iran.
The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria)is a notorious species. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, this species inhabits an area of about six million square miles, or 30 countries, during a quiet period. During a plague, these locusts swarms can spread out across to 60 countries and cover a fifth of Earth’s land surface approximately. Livelihood of a tenth of humans are threaten by the desert locust plague.
Locust Plague vs Indian Administration
After Pakistan and Iran , India is the next target of this plague. The forecasting officers has already warned the country to face the worst locust situation in decade.
The administration is seen prepared to tackle this new headache for the country. After the current battle with Covid19, Amphan cyclone and downfall in economy, this is going to be a yet another danger fight of one of the worst agricultural crisis.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, “Locust swarm from Pakistan has entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, threatening major damage to standing cotton crops and vegetables. Rajasthan is the most affected state. During the current year, the swarm of locusts has entered India earlier than their normal time of June and July. States are adopting various means for controlling the swarms.”
As per the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), India has not seen any locust upsurges since December 2011 and the cases have decreased drastically after the advent of new technologies in the agricultural sector including advancement in pest control market. The country has been hit by locust plague several times between 1812 to 1997.
Effect of locust plague on food
Desert locust are a direct threat to the food security of a country. As mentioned in a report published in The Hindu, a swarm of desert locust containing around 40 million locusts can consume (or destroy) food that would suffice the hunger need of 35,000 people, assuming that one person consumes around 2.3 kg of food every day.
Article By– Shallvi Raj, (Gurugram)