Climate Change

9 maps to show how locusts have come to threaten India

Increase in frequency of cyclones results in extended, multiple breeding sessions of locusts

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 26 May 2020

Recent locust attacks that hit Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Haryana and Gujarat may have occurred due to excess rain in March, April and the first half of May 2020. Locusts are also breeding 400 times more than usual, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). The current locust attack was categorised into three regions across the world by the FAO: The eastern region, including India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, the central region including countries in the Horn of Africa and the western region including west African countries.

Swarms of locusts threaten to be the next big problem for agriculture in India, especially western India.

They have invaded large tracts of Rajasthan, moving in from Pakistan. Already, they have spread to parts of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

These desert locusts are voracious eaters and are now multiplying at an astounding 400 times their usual rate, thanks to favourable climatic condition.

Pakistan earlier declared emergency on February 2, after locust swarms put its food security at risk. Pakistan lost about 40 per cent of its food crops by December 2019, according to media reports.

The real threat to the kharif crop has led to the mainstream media taking note. The problem, however, was brewing for some time.

The FAO, in a bulletin on May 21, 2020 said rain in early June along the India-Pakistan border will aid the laying of locust eggs.

Around 38,308 hectares in 22 of 33 districts in Rajasthan are under locust attack, according to the state government. Locusts have reached as far as Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh from Pakistan in April.

Wind and rainfall have combined to provide the conditions for the movement of the locusts into areas that usually do not get impacted by them.

The locusts move from the western region to central and then eastern regions, as their population increases. Usually only one swarm crosses over to India from Pakistan, but this time, multiple swarms emerged, according to experts.

These maps from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations tell the story of their recent spread, spanning two continents.

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