Agriculture

These farmers in Bikaner, Rajasthan have faced locusts 3 times in one year

They face an uncertain future as many have not received any help from the government

 
Last Updated: Friday 29 May 2020

Some villages in Rajasthan close to the Pakistan border have faced locust attacks for the third time in a year.

Down to Earth travelled to Lalawali village in Chatargarh block of Bikaner to talk to farmers about the crisis.

According to farmers in Lalawali, locust attacks have happened since September 2019. There have been at least three attacks, one last year in September, and two in February and May 2020.

Babulal Shashwat had sown cotton on 2.5 hectares of land. He recollects the evening of May 10, when the locusts attacked his crop. "It was around 4 pm when the locusts descended on my field," said Sashwat. Within two hours, the crops were gone.

Shashwat had hoped to earn Rs 5 lakh from his crop. Now, he said, he would be lucky if he could get Rs 1.5-2 lakh. According to him, there was a locust attack on his fields last year in September. But it was not as bad as it was on May 10.

A similar story is also told by Rajkumar Jhakad of the same village. Jhakad has lost almost all his crops to the locust attack of May 10. He too had planted cotton in a little less than seven hectares of land. But he said that the swarm of locusts that appeared like storm clouds, devoured his crops in about an hour.

Jhakhad has been unlucky for the third time. In September 2019, locusts caused extensive damage to his moth bean crop while in February 2020, the locusts devoured his mustard and gram crop. 

BS Yadav, assistant director at Rajasthan's agriculture department said locusts were polyphagous insects, that devour everything they come across. "They first eat the trees before attacking the standing crops on the fields,'' he said. 

These are stories of farmers who have faced the locusts but have had very little help from the government. Rajasthan is the worst locust-affected state in India.

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