SOURCE: Tribune News Service
A new dimension has been added to locust control activities with helicopters spraying chemicals in targeted areas of Rajasthan. While a Bell helicopter, deployed in Scheduled Desert Area, operated in Jaisalmer district, the Indian Air Force (IAF) also joined the anti-locust operations today.
The versatile Mi-17 helicopter was used for spraying in Jodhpur district, making it the first-of-its-kind activity in the history of locust control in India, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Swarms of locusts are active in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Dausa and Bharatpur of Rajasthan, and Jhansi and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh, it said.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s locust status update on July 3, many of the spring-bred swarms that migrated to the Pakistan border before the monsoon, some continued east to northern states of India and a few groups also reached Nepal. The forecast is that they will return to Rajasthan to join the swarms still arriving from Iran and Pakistan and expected to be supplemented by those from the Horn of Africa about mid-July.
According to officials, despite the locust outbreak in past few days “no significant crop losses have been reported in Gujarat, UP, MP, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan”.
Presently, 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deployed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP and UP. Five companies with 12 drones are deployed at Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Nagaur and Phalodi in Rajasthan for control on tall trees and in inaccessible areas.