“In the late 60s, when I was a teenager, locust attacks used to happen every 3-4 years…I remember frantically beating empty utensils for hours together to make the ‘tiddi dal’ go away. As children, we had become experts at this. The moment a swarm was spotted, the whole village used to run…,” recalled Jagmohan Singh, president of the BKU (Dakaunda), whose native village is Karma in Mamdot area of Ferozepur.
Talking about the regular locust attacks in the 60s, Jagmohan and other farmers from Punjab who witnessed them say that since there were no medicines available to ward off the pests, more primitive methods were used to keep them away.
Jagmohan said locusts used to damage bajra and jowar crops. Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “As a child, I would keep beating the utensils till my father would tell me to. The entire village used to do it.
No doubt there are medicines now to control these swarms, but at that time, desi methods used to be followed. A swarm, if not controlled, can eat enormously and cause massive damage.”
Jagdev Singh, a farmer of Daulatpura village in Abohar district, recalled eminent Punjabi author Gurdial Singh’s novel ‘Ahaan’, which described the locust attacks in Punjab in the past and the atrocities committed by the British over the crop damage.
“We too have spotted few locusts in our fields, but they were not the kind we used to see in the 60s. Gurdial Singh had in his novel ‘Aahan’, which is part of my library, explained how the locust attacks in the pre-independence era spelt major trouble for villagers. He talked about Jaito Mandi of Faridkot as he belonged to this area. In the novel, he says that the tiddi dal had damaged crops of villagers, while British were troubling them over taxes. Gurdial Singh had described the situation of the farmer at that time,” he said.
Sukhjit Singh, another farmer of the same village, said, “Our focus used to be to not let them sit on green leaves, as they used to breed in large numbers. Hence one needs to stay alert, looking at past experiences.”
Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary Vishavjeet Khanna visited Fazilka villages and met the farmers. He took stock of arrangements made by the agriculture department. Some agriculture development officers have also been sent to Rajasthan to get a ground report.
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