While India is still figuring out about how to deal with the wrath of the already disastrous ‘coronavirus’ and ‘cyclone Amphan’, another alarming threat has entered the nation; the desert locust swarms.
The desert locust, which originated from East Africa, is one of the most devastating migratory pests in the world that feeds on a large amount of any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and fodder. Experts say that this might be a continuation of the original locust storm that had moved from Africa eastwards towards India last year and had damaged crops over lakhs of hectares. They added that a larger than normal locust attack could happen this year and the plague will give a heavy blow to agriculture, just at a time when there is such scarcity of food throughout the country.
As the reports say, the locust storms have already invaded Madhya Pradesh, about 16 districts of Rajasthan are affected and now the administration of Agra has received a warning as well. “Locust swarms from Pakistan have entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh threatening major damage to standing cotton crops and vegetables. Rajasthan is the most affected state, said the spokesperson of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The farmers are under the direct threat of the locust attack. As India is largely an agricultural-based economy and that the farmers’ backbone in this country has been constantly dealing with crisis due to coronavirus lockdown and the recent cyclone, the scare is at its worst this time.
However, India has reached out to Pakistan to counter the locust invasion. An official source said that India had proposed a trilateral response in partnership with Pakistan and Iran to restrain the locust attack. “India has suggested to Pakistan that both countries coordinate locust control operations along the border and that India can facilitate the supply of ‘Malathion’, a pesticide, to Pakistan”, said the official.
It remains dubious as to whether Pakistan will respond to India’s proposal, as it is evident that they are not able to work together on any collective regional response. But if not, the locust plague in both countries may wipe out more livelihoods than the Covid-19 contagion and worsen food security in the coming months.