Massive locust invasion threatens Gujarat farmers

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News:The migratory insect locust has spread to the Northern parts of Gujarat, causing significant damage to agriculture.

Facts:

About Locust:

  • Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that have a swarming phase.They belong to the family Acrididae.
  • Swarming refers to a collective behaviour in which locusts aggregate together just like flocks of birds.
  • Locusts differ from grasshoppers in that they have the ability to change their behaviour and habits and can migrate over large distances.

Distribution:

  • The invasion area of desert locust covers about 30 million sq km which includes whole or parts of nearly 64 countries. 
  • This includes countries like North West and East African countries, Arabian Peninsula, the Southern Republic of USSR, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Indian subcontinent.
  • In India,four species of locust namely Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), Bombay Locust ( Nomadacris succincta) and Tree locust (Anacridium sp.) are found.

Threat:

  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery.
  • If infestations are not detected and controlled, devastating plagues can develop that often take several years to bring under control with severe consequences on food security and livelihoods.

Control measures taken by India:

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation(LWO) which was established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The main objective of Locust Warning Organisation(LWO) is protection of standing crops and other green vegetation from the ravages of Desert locust which is one of the most dangerous pests occurring in desert areas throughout the world.