Agra: A massive swarm of locusts camping on UP border near Agra turned towards Madhya Pradesh in tune with the wind flow on Wednesday morning, giving relief to thousands of worried vegetable farmers of west UP. While agriculture department officials said that another swarm of locusts was spotted on Jaipur-Dausa route, which is also likely to reach MP in next few days.
District magistrate Prabhu N Singh said, “The swarm of locusts, which was likely to enter in Agra district on Wednesday, went to MP. But the danger of locust invasion is not over yet. We are spreading awareness among farmers to save their produce from locusts. Agriculture department officials are closely monitoring the movement of swarms.”
“Around 250 tractors mounted with chemical spraying machines are on standby in the rural areas nearby the Rajasthan border,” he added.
The 17 UP districts which were likely to be affected by the swarm are Agra, Aligarh, Mathura, Bulandshahr, Hathras, Etah, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Farrukhabad, Auraiya, Jalaun, Kanpur, Jhansi, Mahoba, Hamirpur and Lalitpur.
When contacted, district agriculture officer Ram Pravesh said, “In search of food, lakhs of locusts from Pakistan entered Rajasthan earlier this month. A new swarm of locusts has been spotted in the neighbouring Dausa district in Rajasthan. Most probably, it will also enter MP. Vegetables are grown in 30,000 hectares of land in Agra alone. We are telling farmers about a suitable proportion of chemicals to be used for killing the locusts.”
“A swarm can travel as much as 150km per day if the wind is in favour. We have also arranged tractor-mounted chemical sprayers to destroy the pests,” he said.
According to the agriculture department officials, locusts can easily strip an area of its vegetation, including the standing crops.
According to the advisory issued by the agriculture department, farmers can bang plates, tin or drums to scare away the locusts. They can also light fire to create smoke to prevent the produce from being consumed by the pests.
While in Bijnor, a big producer of sugarcane, chief development officer KP Singh has launched awareness drives among farmer groups to inform them about the pests.