Uttarakhand’s agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal on Thursday held a review meeting over possible locust swarms in the hill state, especially in plain areas bordering neighbouring Uttar Pradesh (UP), and issued an alert to that effect.
“All department officials have been urged to stay prepared for a possible attack by swarming locusts if the winds turn towards Uttarakhand and lakhs of insects invade our state. Officials have been instructed to make adequate arrangements for chemicals and pesticides to deal with locust swarms and save our farmers’ crops,” said Uniyal.
The minister has asked farmers to make loud noises, bang utensils, spray chemicals and pesticides and create smoke in a bid to deter the insects from attacking standing crops.
“Locusts can destroy wheat, fruit, vegetables, crops, trees, etc. The officials have been asked to be on their toes, as we don’t want our farmers to suffer anymore. They’ve already incurred massive losses due to the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and also the hailstorm that struck our hill state in April,” said Uniyal.
The officials apprised the minister about locust swarms have reached parts of UP from Rajasthan and could enter Uttarakhand, depending on the wind direction.
The invading insects from Sindh in neighbouring Pakistan is moving across Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh at a high speed.
The Central government has stepped in to help the affected states.
On Wednesday, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare announced that locust control operations have been stepped up in the affected states to combat the menace.
“We’ve deployed 89 fire brigades for pesticide spray; 120 survey vehicles; 47 control vehicles with spray equipment and 810 tractor-mounted sprayers for effective locust control,” the ministry said in a statement.