Alongside COVID-19 pandemic, India has been battling migratory desert locusts. And thankfully, the pests have been controlled to some extent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India used advanced technologies like drones to control the spread of locusts and ensured that there was not much crop damage. He said more than 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh, faced locust problem amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Desert locusts are regarded as the most dangerous migratory pests in the world due to their ability to change behaviour and form swarms that consume everything in their part. The locust swarms prefer arid or semi-arid areas for egg-laying and nymph development. The migration area of desert locust covers about 30 million square kilometres in nearly 64 countries, including parts of the Indian subcontinent. Experts further say that locusts damage crops by devouring all aspects of the plants and also by breaking trees by their sheer weight when they settle down in masses. Moreover, one square km of a locust swarm contains up to 80,000 adults that each day, consume the equivalent of food for 35,000 people.
PM Modi said the speed at which locust swarms were spreading in the country, and it was not possible to control them in traditional ways. Highlighting the Bundelkhand region, he said the area faced the locust attack after 30 years. “Not only Uttar Pradesh, more than 10 states faced the locust problem.” As per reports, the insects damaged crops in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The locust swarms had entered India through the western state of Rajasthan on May 13, 2020. The prime minister said the central government worked on a war footing to save crops from the pest. He revealed a dozen control rooms, including one in Jhansi, were set up and authorities procured special spray machines and distributed in the affected areas. “All machineries were put in place to ensure farmers face less crop damage. To save tall trees, drone and helicopters were used for spraying.”
As such, PM Modi said India saved farmers from incurring huge losses. Emphasizing the importance of modern farm technologies, he exhorted young researchers and agri-scientists to work on ‘One Life, One mission’ to promote technologies like drone or artificial intelligence across the country.