The state government Friday alerted farmers in villages along the Maharashtra-Gujarat border to step up vigil, especially at night, on their fields for a potential attack of locust swarms.
Desert locusts, which feed on vegetation, recently invaded Chikhaldara, Morshi, Warud, Katol, and Ramtek areas in the Vidarbha region. State Agriculture Minister Dadasaheb Bhuse Friday said a swarm of locusts had entered the Amravati district from Madhya Pradesh on May 24, but the agriculture department and farmers managed to initiate quick measures to destroy them. “The agriculture department used fire brigade vehicles to spray pesticides so as to cover the maximum area,” Bhuse said, adding that the department was using drones to further monitor the movement of locusts.
The minister said, as per the latest update, locusts could now enter the areas adjacent to the Gujarat border, like Palghar, from the neighbouring state. “The department has sent an alert to farmers along with Maharashtra and Gujarat border,” Bhuse said.
He added that locusts have a huge potential to damage crops and that the department was assessing the damage caused in Vidarbha region.
However, initial reports from district-level agriculture centres do not indicate much damage to crops as kharif sowing is still under process, he added.
Claiming that the state government was well-equipped to destroy locust swarms using both conventional and new technology, Bhuse said, “There are two ways to deal with these locusts. First, using pesticides, which kill them, and second, by creating loud noise to drive them away from the fields… In the (Vidarbha) villages, farmers used motorcycle sirens and played music on loudspeakers to drum up efforts to drive away locusts.”
Bhuse also assured that there was no question of locust attack in the Metros and said the reports of locust swarms in Thane and Mumbai were incorrect. “Even if there are problems, the agriculture department is ready to tackle the situation. Experts are on job to find out what could have led to their sudden arrival in such huge numbers in Maharashtra. The phenomenon is not confined to just our state, but is being reported from across India, especially, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. If there are any damages caused by locusts to farmers, the department will look into the matter and see how it could be compensated,” Bhuse said.
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