Locust attack: Nine Odisha districts under alert, officials asked to keep vigil

The government has started control rooms at state- and district- levels to ward off locusts  

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Wednesday 03 June 2020

At least nine districts in Odisha are reportedly under threat of locust invasion, according to state government officials. In a bid to prepare for the worst, the Odisha government on June 2, 2020 asked its officials to keep a vigil on the locust situation for at least next 10 days. It also directed them to spray medicines, if needed, on crops with the help of fire services.

The districts under threat include Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh and Bargarh.  

States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are already battling out the worst locust invasion in over 27 years. 

A decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting in the office of the Chief Minister Naveen Patanaik. It saw top officials, including Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy, Development Commissioner Suresh Mohapatra, Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena, Farmers’ Empowerment Secretary Saurabh Garg and Fire Services Director-General Satyajit Mohanty, in attendance.

The members were informed that an army of locusts invaded crops in Chhattisgarh on June 1 before reportedly returning to Madhya Pradesh. There was speculation that the swarm may turn to Odisha.

The government has started control rooms at state- and district- levels to ward off locusts, according to agriculture officials.

“The department has sent six lakh WhatsApp messages to more than eight lakh farmers to make them aware of the impending danger,” said a senior official.

Farmers have been advised to create noise by beating utensils or tin boxes to drive the locusts away. They have also been asked to spray neem-based insecticides.

The locusts have raided crops in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh so far. According to agriculture department officials, the pests are expected to enter Odisha from western states. Crops and trees in Bargarh, Sundargarh, Kalahandi and Balangir district are likely to be most vulnerable, they added.

Officials fear that locusts may also attack paddy crop, harvesting of which is underway in a few districts.

Bargarh district, known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Odisha, shares its border with Chhattisgarh. A sizable part of paddy crop has yet to be harvested there.

The Bargarh district agriculture officials have reportedly created a WhatsApp group for all the 253 Gram Panchayats to share all relevant information. The department has also distributed leaflets among farmers.     

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