Showers of Locusts

As per my last blog, we saw that India is now in a tight spot and it will take a miracle for it to be free from that spot. Well, that spot just got tighter. The shower of locusts in Rajasthan and north western part on India has added to the predicament. Seriously, is nature holding a personal grudge against India? It seems so.

What are locusts?

The locusts are a type of insect belonging to the family of grasshoppers. Two or three locusts are no harm but the danger is when they start breeding. A single female locust can lay 60-80 eggs three times during its average life cycle of 90 days. Plagues of locust have devastated societies since the Pharaohs led ancient Egypt and that’s really saying something.

Why do they affect Rajasthan?

During dry spells, solitary locusts are forced together in the patchy areas of land with remaining vegetation. This makes them socially active and more hungry. When rain returns- providing moist soil and abundant green plants- those are the perfect conditions for locusts. Thus, we can say that locusts are an indirect product of the cyclone AMPHAN.

How has AMPHAN resulted in locusts?

The movements of swarms of locusts have been strengthened and aided by none other than the AMPHAN in the Bay of Bengal. The westerly winds were further empowered by the low pressure area created by the AMPHAN according to The Indian Express.

Why locusts are dangerous?

Locusts swarms are typically in motion and can cover huge distances such as 81 miles per day. They can even take non stop trips. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural loss. Desert Locust plague threaten the economic livelihood of a tenth of humans. Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm of 40-80 million can eat about 423 million pounds of plants everyday. Imagine the loss of the farmers!

Was India aware of this earlier?

The Locust Warning Organization, a unit under the Agricultural Ministry seems to have spotted this problem earlier and had warned of their presence at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan as well as some parts near the India-Pakistan border. Accordingly, there have been arrival of locusts in the warned zones. Scientists of LWO had gotten to know about this predicament in 2019-20 rabi season when unusually active swarms were reported in Rajasthan and Gujarat and some parts of Punjab. Control measure minimized the damage in India at that time.

If measures were taken, why is the situation not under control?

This is because not full action or measures were taken. The rest were not possible due to the lockdown around the world. The lockdown has therefore proven to not protect the citizens of Odisha from AMPHAN and now it is the reason for the lack of measures taken in accordance with the locust problem.

So, where does India stand now?

Huge swarms of desert locust are destroying crops across western and partly central India. This is the country’s worst plague in nearly three years now. Drones, tractors and cars have been sent out to track the voracious pests and spray them with pesticides. The locusts have already destroyed nearly 50,000 hectares of crop land. LWO have said that India has not seen locust swarms on this scale since 1993.

What is the effect on the farmers?

The condition of farmers if worsening day by day. For them, things had been hard enough due to the pandemic and the lockdown. The swarms of locusts have caused intense anxiety for the farmers. They are worried that the insects will wipe out their moong bean crops which are cultivated during the summer resulting into huge financial blow on them. This attack of locust has affected the farmers the most and will result in a huge blow of the economy. Without the crops, poverty and prices of goods will run high. This may even lead to a subsistence crisis.


Signing off and happy writing 😉

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