Plague amid Pandemic: Locusts have Arrived

Locust swarms originating in Pakistan have been making landfall in India since February this year. First, Punjab reported a small locust swarm of about three to four km long and about one km wide area and it was quickly eliminated using insecticides. In March, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change warned that the locust swarm from Pakistan had entered Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh threatening major damage to standing cotton crops and vegetables urging states to adopt various means to respond to the swarms (The New Indian Express 2020a). Several districts in Rajasthan adjoining Pakistan (Bundi, Sikar, Pratapgarh and Chittorgarh) reported presence of locusts in farmlands. Last year, Rajasthan recorded agriculture losses of about INR 10,000 million due to the locust invasion after 670,000 hectares of cropland in 12 districts was damaged (Goswami 2020).

The author is former Director National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi.