The Gujarat agriculture department has begun high-scale preparations to control a possible massive locust attack on the state’s border and coastline by the end of June or the beginning of July. The preparations started after a warning was received from the Locust Control Office of the Union government in this regard. State officials said that as per the warning, the regions that may come under the locust attack include Banaskantha, Kutch, Patan, Morbi, Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka.
“We have received a warning that there may be a massive locust attack in the state by June-end or beginning of July. Big swarms of locusts – around five-seven km wide – that originated from Yemen may enter Gujarat by that period,” said a senior official associated with the development, on the condition of anonymity.
“It could be a massive locust attack… and we are preparing to deal with it on a war footing basis. The district administration of a number of districts, like Banaskantha, Kutch, Patan, Morbi, Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka, have been alerted. They have started preparations to ensure minimum damage by the locust attack,” the officer added.
The state government, an official said, has started preparations to handle the possible attack with the help of the Central government. The preparations include campaigns to bring awareness among farmers to handle the locusts, getting tractor mounted sprayers and water pumps ready, stocking pesticides and ensuring availability of water, among other measures.
Gujarat has been facing the scare of a locust attack since May and sightings of small groups of locusts have been reported.
“Two days back, there was a small group of locusts that entered Banaskantha district near Nada Beyt. It was a small group that covered around 135 hectare land. We controlled it immediately. Attacks by such groups can be tackled easily. However, major preparations are on to deal with big swarms of locusts that have originated from Yemen. Currently, we are facing chances of entry of locust swarms either from Rajasthan border, Pakistan border or from the coastal areas of Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka,” said another senior state government official.
“If these swarms enter Gujarat, then it could be the biggest locust attack in the recent past. If not controlled effectively, it may cause a lot of damage. The agriculture department has started preparations on a large scale,” the officer added.
Another official from the Central government, associated with the locust control task, said that they have been regularly holding meetings with state government officials through video conferences to keep tabs on the development.
“There is a forecast of a massive locust attack, but it all depends on a range of factors. The swarms may change their direction over time and may not hit Gujarat. We are preparing to handle any eventuality,” said a senior state government official.