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India intensifies locust control as FAO says more outbreaks expected

India intensifies locust control as  FAO says more outbreaks expected
Photo for representation
NEW DELHI, JUL 5 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 7/5/2020 1:28:04 PM IST

A new dimension added in locust control activities with chemical spraying in targeted areas started on Saturday, with a Bell Helicopter taking its first sortie in the Banda area of Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan

As per the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Locust Status Update of July 3, many of the spring-bred swarms that migrated to Indo-Pak 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, according to the Agriculture Ministry

From April 11, locust control operations have been done in around 2.5 lakh hectares area in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar, according to an official statement.

Battling a devastating locust outbreak, the government is strengthening its control capabilities through air power-drones, helicopters and aircraft.

The Indian Air Force has tasked 3 Base Repair Depot located at Chandigarh to undertake the challenging task of indigenously designing and developing an Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) for Mi-17 helicopters in view of envisaged delay in provisioning of modification kits from the UK  due to Covid lockdown.

Using all indigenous components, the atomized airborne spraying of pesticide has been successfully achieved in air through a configuration of nozzles mounted both sides on external trusses of the versatile Mi-17 helicopter

The nozzles used for the purpose are a mix of those commercially available nozzles as well as ones developed by CSIO, Chandigarh. 

According to officials, in past few days despite the attack no  significant crop losses have been reported in the States of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, 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.

Presently 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deputed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations, the Agriculture Ministry said. 

India is the first Country who is using drones for locust control. On June 27, the , MoCA further relaxed the terms and conditions and permitted the use of engine-powered drone up to 50kg and use of drones during night times also for anti-locust operations.

 

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