The worst locust attack in decades has invaded north India- Editorial by Civil Service Gurukul

About Locust Attack in India

A locust infestation means a serious threat to food security. A similar situation is afoot currently, with the food security of some of Africa’s poorest nations at risk amid what the FAO has described as the worst locust infestation in a generation.

Having arrived in India through Iran and Pakistan, the locusts have not just registered their presence in the border states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, but in the interiors of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as well. The FAO has said much of these “movements were associated with strong westerly winds from Cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal”.

How to control Locust Attack in India ?

At present, the primary method of controlling desert locust swarms is through organophosphate chemicals (the prime ingredient in herbicide and pesticide) applied in small concentrated doses by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers along with knapsack- and hand-held sprayers. 

However, the Centre had banned the use of chlorpyriphos and deltamethrin. Malathion is also included in the list of banned chemicals but has been subsequently allowed for locust control

In rural areas of India, farmers have been known to beat steel utensils during late afternoons and evenings, and play loud music at night and create wood-fire, to ward off locust swarms from farms, albeit temporarily. 

Additionally, newer technology in the form of serotonin inhibition has shown promise in laboratory settings. 


Way Forward

India also has a locust warning and control organisation (LWO), formed in 1939 and overseen by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The LWO monitors locust scenarios over desert areas. It has two headquarters, one in Faridabad (near New Delhi) for administrative duties and one in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) for technical operations. 

During the summer, a monthly meeting is held on the Indo-Pakistan border for locust officers from India and Pakistan to exchange information.