Desert locusts, fall army worm invade crops in north, central, western India

Lincoln Wylie

“This kharif year is a total washout,” declares Vijay Kishan, a farmer of Kudi village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. The constant onslaught of desert locusts swarms in excess of the earlier few months has ravaged his early-phase bajra crop planted in excess of twenty five bighas (about 15 acres). The pesky invaders from Iran and Balochistan have also critically harmed his moong and guar fields.

Kishan suggests the cotton crop, which was planted early in May well on about five-6 bighas, is his only hope now as the matured plants have withstood the locust attack to some extent. “I am hoping to get at least 50 % of the anticipated cotton crop if the depth of the locust attack comes down in the coming times,” suggests Kishan, who has expended around ₹1.five lakh in cultivating his sixty-bigha plot. His cultivation charges have shot up this year owing to the additional charges incurred on pest management.

Kishan is among the countless numbers of farmers who have borne the brunt of the locust swarms that have steadily invaded north, central and elements of western India. As if the locusts menace, which is the worst since 1993, is not lousy sufficient, an infestation of slide military worm (FAW) is now wrecking the kharif crop in Rajasthan.

Maize under danger, too

Although the locusts pose a danger to crops such as moong bean, pearl millet and cotton through their early stages, FAW is staying generally witnessed on maize.

In Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan, the FAW has attacked just about a fourth of the 88,000 odd hectares under maize, stated an Agriculture Section official.

It is not just Rajasthan. FAW, which 1st surfaced in kharif 2018 in Karnataka, is a danger in other maize-escalating States like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as very well.


This year, inspite of a bearish craze in rates, there is an enhance in the cultivation of maize. Farmers experienced planted maize on about fifty four lakh hectares till July ten, a seventeen for each cent enhance in excess of the earlier year. States reporting a increase in maize acreage involve M.P., Karnataka, Punjab and Chhattisgarh. Despite the fact that the govt machinery has swung into action with drones and helicopters to fight the locust attack, agri gurus feel it is time to declare it a catastrophe. About sixty groups consisting of two hundred personnel have been carrying out locust-management operations on three lakh hectares across afflicted States, but fears are that the hurt will be comprehensive.

“The govt should really declare the locust attack as a natural catastrophe so that farmers get some compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY),” stated Bhagirath Choudhary, Founder-Director, South Asia Biotechnology Centre, an agri-advocacy overall body.

Extent of effects unclear

He factors out that to take care of FAW, farmers are compelled to incur an additional cultivation value of ₹1500 for each acre, which would harm their earnings. By now, the bearish maize rates have hit the farmers’ profitability. Meanwhile, owing to the Covid lockdown, it is rough to get a entire image of how poorly are the maize crops afflicted.

“We have been acquiring reports of FAW infestation from across major maize-manufacturing States, but owing to Covid, an evaluation of the effects on the space has not been doable so significantly,” stated A N Shylesha, Principal Scientist at the ICAR – Countrywide Bureau of Agricultural Insect Means (NBAIR). Past year, FAW experienced hit maize in 7.18 lakh hectares.


Farmers in crucial maize manufacturing belt of Karnataka’s Chitradurga and Davangere stated that no large-scale infestation has been described so significantly. But States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are not having a possibility and are creating recognition among farmers to management FAW. “We are having precautionary steps and have stocked up the substances made use of to management the pest,” stated A Srinivas, Director, Karnataka Agriculture Section.

Progressive farmers seem to be to be heeding these advisories likely by the product sales of substances. “There is an enhance in orders from farmers in M.P., Chhattisgarh and UP among many others for substances and bio-management brokers — generally neem and fungal formulations. We have also acquired orders from farmers in Rajasathan for locust-management substances,” stated Sateesh Nukala, CEO and Co-Founder, BigHaat, an on line agri-input seller.

They will will need all the chemical weapons they can muster in their armoury as one more invasion is forecast. Swarms of locusts breeding in the Horn of Africa are probable to attain India and Pakistan in the next few months.

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