New Delhi, June 28, 2020: Locust control operations are going on in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra. In total 60 ground control teams of Locust Circle Offices and 12 Drones are being used for Locust Control operations. The Locust Warning Organization and 10 Locust Circle Offices in coordination with State Governments undertakes locust control operations in schedule desert areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The State Governments through their Agriculture Departments undertake locust control in cropped area. This year starting from 11th April 2020, in this season 1,27,225 hectares have been controlled till 26th June, 2020.

One swarm of 2 km x 4 km size which was previously controlled in Jhunjhunu district (Rajasthan) on 26th June 2020 moved to Rewari district in Haryana. This swarm in Rewari was controlled by the State Agriculture Department deploying 40 tractors and 4 fire brigade vehicles. Two Ground control teams and officers of Locust Circle office were also present and joined them. Control operations were carried out from midnight to early morning hours on 27th June 2020.

The left over swarm initially moved towards Jhajjar district in the morning and thereafter turned towards east following the wind direction. This swarm split into 3-4 smaller swarms. One moved towards Nuh (Haryana) and two swarms moved over Gurugram, moving further towards U.P.

Two teams deployed in Haryana are following these swarms. Five more ground control teams have been moved from Nagaur and Jaipur in Rajasthan to join the operations in U.P. Drones have also been moved from Jaisalmer to join operations. State Agriculture Departments of Haryana & U.P. have been continuously kept informed and they are making necessary arrangements for control wherever the swarm finally settles.

It is pertinent to mention that on 27th morning, apart from control operations at Rewari, locust controls have been undertaken by ground control teams of Locust Circle offices in coordination with agriculture department officials of State Government in 2 locations in Jaisalmer, 6 locations in Barmer, 6 locations in Jodhpur, 4 locations in Bikaner, 4 locations in Nagaur, 1 location in Jaipur and Sikar district in Rajasthan. Furthermore,control operations have been undertaken at 1 location in U.P. also.

India is the first country to control locust by using drones after finalizing the protocols and getting all statutory approvals. Major operations are concentrated in Rajasthan where maximum resources are committed. State governments have deployed tractor mounted sprayers and fire tender vehicles in large numbers to undertake locust control in cropped area.

Steps taken to strengthen capacity of Locust control –

  • To strengthen locust control capabilities in India, 10 ground spray equipments were imported from Micron, UK, during January 2020 and 15 equipments in June 2020. Additional 45 ground spray equipments will reach in the month of July 2020 and Locust Circle Offices have more than 100 ground control equipment by July.
  • Presently 60 control teams and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations.
  • For effective control of locusts on tall trees and in inaccessible areas, 5 companies with 12 drones are deployed for spraying of pesticides for locust control. India is the first country which is using drones for locust control after finalizing all required protocols.
  • 55 additional vehicles have been purchased to strengthen the control capabilities.
  • Enough stock of pesticides is being maintained with the locust control organization and  there is sufficient availability with State Governments also.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs has included admissibility of hiring of vehicles, tractors with spray equipments for spraying of plant protection chemicals for pest control; hiring of water tankers; and purchase of plant protection chemicals for locust control under new norms of assistance under SDRF and NDRF.
  • Under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization, assistance for purchase of 800 tractors mounted spray equipments sanctioned for Rajasthan State Government. (2.86 crores).
  • Financial assistance of Rs. 14 Crore sanctioned for Rajasthan State under RKVY for hiring of vehicles, tractors and for purchase of pesticides is under sanction.
  • Financial assistance of Rs. 1.80 crore sanctioned for Gujarat State for purchase of vehicles, spray equipments, safety uniform, android application, training with regard to locust.
  • Review meetings were organized at different levels (Hon’ble Agriculture Minister, Cabinet Secretary, Secretary-DAC&FW), VCs were organized for different State Governments and Locust control preparedness is being reviewed. Local awareness literature, SOPof approved pesticides and awareness videos were also shared with all stakeholder States and all the States were requested to make all necessary preparations for control as per SOP.
  • No significant crop losses have been reported in the States of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan.
  • Virtual meetings of the technical officers of South West Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) have taken place on weekly basis. So far 14 SWAC-TOC meeting have been done this year. Technical information related to locust control in the region is being shared. It is being coordinated by FAO.