The swarm of locusts which was seen in different parts of Delhi NCR including Gurugram and south Delhi on Saturday has reached Kasganj in western Uttar Pradesh after an unsuccessful attempt to control it, a top official of the Locust Warning Organisation said on Sunday.
“We couldn’t control the entire swarm. They flew again early on Sunday morning. We have arranged for drones, fire brigades, apart from seven teams with sprayer mounted on vehicles. We are trying our best to control it. Control operations will begin again tonight. Teams are moving with the swarm,” said K L Gurjar, deputy director, Locust Warning Organisation.
LWO also has several teams in Rajasthan that are trying to control fresh swarms coming in from Pakistan and Iran. “Control operations have been strengthened at the border to ensure swarms don’t come in,” Gurjar said.
Meanwhile with monsoon approaching the arid regions of Rajasthan, breeding of locusts have started in several pockets, Gurjar had said on Saturday. “Locusts have laid eggs and hoppers have emerged. But we will manage to control these hoppers immediately.”
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its Desert Locust Situation update on Saturday evening where it said that although control operations continue, a general northerly movement of swarms will occur in three countries. Some of the swarms in northwest Kenya are expected to transit through South Sudan to reach the summer breeding areas of Sudan where some rains have already started. If these rains are not enough, there is a risk that swarms could continue to eastern Chad and spread westwards across the northern Sahel of West Africa.
Swarms that accumulate in northern Somalia are likely to migrate across the Indian Ocean to the summer breeding areas along the Indo-Pakistan border.
“In Southwest Asia, spring-bred swarms are present along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border where they are awaiting the onset of the monsoon rains that will start in the coming days and allow the swarms to mature and lay eggs. Control operations continue,” the update said adding that swarms and adult groups in India are mainly present in Rajasthan west of Jaipur but some infestations continue to be reported in parts of Madhya Pradesh and southern Uttar Pradesh.
“There are successive breeding cycles in the Horn of Africa. Some swarms from there are moving towards west Africa while some are moving towards Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. These can also come to India in July. Some are expected to directly move to India from the Horn of Africa with the monsoon winds,” Gurjar said.
“The winds are moving from the direction of the Horn of Africa towards India. The wind direction is south-westerly during monsoon. I will not be able to comment on whether they will carry these swarms with them,” M Mohapatra, director general, India Meteorological Department had said last week.
While so far, the impact on food security due to locust invasions hasn’t been much, LWO said the Kharif crop especially maize and cotton is likely to be impacted if the two locust threats—from Indian Ocean and from breeding sites in India aren’t controlled.