India under worst locust attack in nearly 30 years

India under worst locust attack in nearly 30 years

Massive swarms of locusts are wreaking havoc across western and central India, already destroying almost 50 000 ha (124 000 acres) of cropland. The outbreak has affected Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and has also begun impacting Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi district on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, amid what is described as the worst attack in nearly three decades.

The plague prompted authorities to level up their response-- drones, tractors, and cars have been deployed to track the insects and spray them with pesticides. Currently, the Locust Warning Organization (LWO) has 50 teams tracking swarms from Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh.

"Eight to 10 swarms, each measuring around a square km (0.39 square miles) are active in parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh," said KL Gurjar, LWO deputy director.

Nearly 50 000 ha (124 000 acres) of cropland has already been destroyed. On the other hand, pests have been controlled in about 47 000 ha (116 000 acres) so far in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. 

"Before the monsoon, we will control them completely so that there is no second wave," said Gurjar.

Smaller swarms are also active in some states across India, including Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra, as well as portions of Uttar Pradesh. "They are headed towards Morena for now," Gurjar added.

Seasonal crops in both states have been severely damaged, leaving farmers devastated. Prior to entering Rajasthan, the swarms destroyed harvests in the neighboring country of Pakistan in April.

The warning center noted that India has not experienced locust swarms on this scale since 1993.

Featured image credit: Balakrishnan Kannan/Twitter

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