Emirates News Agency – South West Asia regional approach to locust invasion

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From Krishnan Nayar

NEW DELHI, 28th June, 2020 (WAM) – With a locust invasion spreading across northern and western India, threatening agricultural crops, a regional approach to fight the menace has been intensified under the coordination of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO.

“Virtual meetings of the technical officers of the South West Asian Countries Technical and Operational Coordination Mechanism, SWAC-TOC, have taken place on a weekly basis,” India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare announced today.

The South West Asian countries, which are part of this FAO mechanism are Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan. SWAC-TOC is the oldest of the three FAO regional commissions within the global locust early warning and prevention system, according to its India office in Jodhpur. SWAC-TOC was established in 1964.

“So far 14 SWAC-TOC meeting have been held this year,” the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said. “Technical information related to locust control in the region is being shared across South West Asia. It is being coordinated by the FAO.”

The ministry said locust control operations are presently going on in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra. “In total 60 ground control teams of Locust Circle Offices and 12 drones are being used for locust control operations.”

India claimed the locust invasion has been controlled in 127,225 hectares during this farming season till 26th June. The ministry described locust swarms as huge as 2 km by 4 km in area as they move with the winds. Delhi has so far been spared of damage although satellite cities in the National Capital Region, NCR, surrounding Delhi, have been affected.

“India is the first country to control locusts by using drones,” the ministry claimed in a press release.

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