Bijnor, Feb 10 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh agriculture department has issued a high alert in the state about the possibility of locust attacks, especially in western parts of the state.

Bijnor district magistrate Ramakant Pandey said, “We have sounded alert among all farmers, revenue staff and village heads about potential invasion of locust swarms here. Locusts have been wreaking havoc in Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan and now Haryana too, which borders west UP.”

He said that with the onset of the spring season, the weather is conducive to locusts for breeding and reproduction. Locusts thrive and flourish in loam soil. Farmers should regularly plough such type of farmland. If villagers spot swarms of locusts, they should immediately inform the administration, so that appropriate steps could be taken.”

There has been spurt in locust attacks, called ‘tiddi dal’ in the local parlance, in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat and other states recently. Locusts are known to attack healthy crop on farmlands.

All the village heads and farmers in western districts have been alerted about the locust attacks and have been asked to inform the district authorities if they spot locusts in large numbers.

The state government has already issued advisory to all district magistrates, especially districts bordering Haryana where advent of locust swarms was reported.

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had recently told Rajya Sabha that 88 per cent of total 1,68,548 hectares of affected farmland witnessed severe crop loss of more than 33 per cent.

Deputy Director, agriculture, JP Chaudhary said, “Farmers can scare away locusts by beating the drum. They can also take insecticide from us and spray it on their crop. Grasshopper (locust) swarms can cause an epidemic if farmers show negligence and do not take measures at earliest. Locusts subsist on green leaves and are able to destroy crops very fast, particularly potato, wheat, mustard and sugarcane crops. In Punjab, fire brigade was used to curb locusts. We can also apply that method here.”

More than 1.68 lakh hectares of farmland in the country has been affected by locusts with Rajasthan and Gujarat taking the worst hit.

–IANS

amita/rt

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