The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar interacted with representatives of Pesticide Manufacturing Industry here today through video conferencing to fine tune a strategy to prevent locust attacks on agricultural fields. He said agriculture is a priority sector as emphasized by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Government will leave no stone unturned to ensure uninterrupted sowing and harvesting operations. Shri Tomar said the Central and State Governments are working together on the Desert Locust Control measures and have been able to check its spread. New machines have been ordered from the United Kingdom and will arrive soon, he said.Shri Tomar said the locust invasion was first noticed last year and the farmers were taken unawares as it took place after decades. He expressed satisfaction that the losses were checked due to timely action by the Union Agriculture Ministry and the concerned State Governments with the support of farmers. The Centre has compensated farmers who suffered losses from the NDRF Fund. He said the international community has lauded India’s efforts and the Government was ably supported by the Pesticides Industry towards this end. The Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Parshottam Rupala and Shri Kailash Choudhary were present during today’s video conference.Despite the prevailing Covid-19 lockdown, the Locust Control Offices are working since April 11, 2020 with 50 spray equipment/vehicles, in coordination with officials of District Administration and State Agriculture Department. Tractor mounted sprayers and fire-tender vehicles deployed at various locations are being used in locust control. Additional equipment are also being procured to increase the control capacity of Locust Control Organizations.So far (till 11.05.2020) the Hoppers and Pink Swarms have been controlled in an area of 14,299 hectares of Jaisalmer, Sri Ganganagar, Jodhpur, Barmer and Nagaur districts in Rajasthan and Fazilka district of Punjab. Presently, swarms of immature Pink Locusts are active in Barmer, Phalodi (Jodhpur), Nagaur, Sriganganagar and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan. Control work is started early in the morning.For the upcoming season, work is being done promptly to deal the locust problem. A high-level virtual meeting on desert locusts in Southwest Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) was held on March 11, 2020, at the FAO's office in New Delhi, India.
MoS (Agriculture) Kailash Choudhary and Secretary (Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare) Shri Sanjay Agarwal attended the meeting. As per the decision taken in the meeting, virtual meetings of technical officers of member countries are being held every Monday through VC and so far 8 meetings have been held. Technical information is exchanged in these meetings.The status and preparedness of locust was reviewed in February and May, 2020 by organizing meetings and VCs with the State Agriculture Secretaries and District officials at the level of Secretary (AC&FW) and for the coming season, based upon past experiences, strategy was formulated. States are being made aware of Locust forecasts and advisories are also being issued continuously. The Agriculture Minister Shri Tomar gave various instructions in a meeting held on 06th May 2020 to review the status of locust control and to ensure effective control to deal with locust attack.Normally, with the arrival of the monsoon, locust swarms enter the Scheduled Desert Areas of India via Pakistan for breeding in the summer of June/ July, but this year, presence of Locust Hoppers was reported from April 11, 2020; and Pink Adult Swarms were reported since April 30 in border Districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which have been controlled and control operations against new swarms is going on. One reason for this was the uncontrolled swarms of the previous season in Pakistan that breed continuously. Swarms of Pink Immature Adults fly high and travel long distances with strong winds coming from Pakistan. Most of these Pink Immature Adults settle on trees during the night and mostly fly during the day.10 Locust Circle Offices of Government of India located in Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Phalodi, Barmer, Jalore, Churu, Nagaur, Suratgarh districts of Rajasthan; Palanpur and Bhuj districts of Gujarat are working in scheduled desert area of more than 2 lakh sq km in India. The locusts are monitored, surveyed and controlled in coordination with the State Agricultural Departments and the concerned District Administration. In addition, pest control in crops is done by the Agriculture Department of the concerned State Government.Last year, the State Governments had assisted farmers through scheme on the use of pesticides and tractor mounted sprayer. During the year 2019-20, there was a massive locust attack in India, which was successfully controlled by the Locust Circle Office personnel with the State Agriculture and District Administration officials. Control operations were conducted from May 21, 2019 to February 17, 2020; and a total of 4,03,488 hectares of area was treated and locust swarms controlled.