Haryana sounds high alert after locust swarms attack crops in neighbouring Rajasthan

Haryana sounds high alert after locust swarms attack crops in neighbouring Rajasthan

Locusts attack in Jaipur (File Photo)

CHANDIGARH: Haryana has issued a high alert in seven districts after locust swarms attacked crops in neighbouring Rajasthan and a few other states, officials said on Thursday, asserting that there was enough insecticide in stock to tackle the pest menace.
Tractors mounted with chemical sprayers have also been deployed.
After damaging crops in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, swarms of locusts entered Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi district amid what is being described as the worst attack in 26 years.
Authorities in Haryana said that though the locust swarms have not entered the state, they are maintaining a high alert.
We are ready, seven districts have been put on high alert. We have stocked enough pesticides, insecticides and we have also formed farmers’ groups. We have also formed farmers’ groups even on WhatsApp, additional chief secretary, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department, Sanjeev Kaushal said.
Tractor mounted spraying facilities have also been activated. So, all these precautions we have taken, he said. Kaushal said that for quick mobilisation, deputy commissioners are holding daily meetings.
A response team headed by senior agriculture department officer Surinder Singh Dahiya has been formed to coordinate with the deputy commissioners.
Rabi crops like wheat and pulses are being harvested and there is no crop which is standing in the fields. Cotton is being sown in Sirsa area now, Kaushal said.
He said on Wednesday night when our officers contacted the Jodhpur Central Institute for Locust Warning (Locust Warning Organisation), the information we got was that two swarms had come up to Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan and because of wind velocity and the storm last night, the report we got was that these insects had headed away from Haryana.
However, Kaushal said that the alert will remain.
The districts which are on high alert are Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Mahendragarh and Rewari. Kaushal said that in recent times, locust attack was reported in Fazilka in Punjab three months back, but the insects were in much smaller numbers.
Locusts were spotted in some villages in Punjab’s Fazilka and Muktsar districts in January but were effectively contained then, he said.
The current attack began last month when swarms entered Rajasthan from Pakistan, and then spread to other western states.
Kaushal said that a company which ran a pilot study using drones to spray pesticides on swarms of locust in Rajasthan has been asked to share the study. “We have told them to share the pilot study, he said.
Officials said that a detailed action plan on checking the locust swarm invasion has been prepared.
The farmers have been asked to inspect their fields and immediately report any locust attack in their fields and inform about the same to the agriculture department. Locusts, popularly known as ”tiddi dal”, are short-horned grasshoppers with highly migratory habits and voracious feeding behaviour.

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