Govt is deploying drones to pursue locusts as swarms destroy swathes of crop.
Huge swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across western and central India, prompting authorities Tuesday to step up their response to the country’s worst plague in nearly three decades.
Drones, tractors and cars are sent bent track the voracious pests and spray them with pesticides. The locusts have already destroyed nearly 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of cropland.
“Eight to 10 swarms, each measuring around a square kilometre are active in parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” the government’s Locust Warning Organisation’s deputy director K.L. Gurjar told AFP.
The insects caused massive damage to seasonal crops in both states, devastating many farmers already battling the impact of a strict coronavirus lockdown.
They destroyed harvests within the agricultural heartlands of neighbouring Pakistan in April, before entering Rajasthan.
Smaller swarms also are active during a few states across India, Gurjar said.
A swarm of 40 million locusts can eat the maximum amount food as 35,000 people — or six elephants — consistent with UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Residential areas within the capital Jaipur were overwhelmed by the insects as bewildered locals banged on pots and pans to undertake and keep off the insects.
Experts warn things could worsen with more expected to succeed in India via Pakistan from the Horn of Africa in June.
Heavy rains and cyclones enabled unprecedented breeding and therefore the rapid climb of locust populations on the Arabian Peninsula early last year, consistent with the United Nations .
India has not seen locust swarms on this scale since 1993 when it experienced a widespread plague, the warning centre said.
Locusts destroy crops in some parts of Rajasthan on the brink of the border with Pakistan most years, but it’s rare for the insects to maneuver further into the state.
Wind patterns are pushing the swarms southwest, the locust warning centre said.