Staff are being deployed to offer guidance on the best ways to drive the insects away, with solutions ranging from letting off fireworks, beating drums and playing music at a high volume.
In May, vast clouds of desert locusts up to four miles long crammed into India’s western state of Rajasthan from Pakistan, and swarms have since advanced into five different states hunting for food.
Swarms of locust attack in the residential areas of Jaipur, Rajasthan
Desert locusts can consume their own bodyweight in vegetation every day
The desert locust’s ability to move and reproduce rapidly makes it hugely destructive.
Locuts near a residential area in Prayagraj
East Africa is witnessing the worst locust outbreak in decades, triggered by climate change and widespread regional conflicts, with the situation exacerbated by the pandemic.
Andre Laperriere, the Executive Director of Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition (GODAN), a Non-Governmental Organisation partly funded by the Department for International Development (DfiD) said: “Amidst the current pandemic and a heatwave, India is facing another outbreak that now threatens its food security – locust infestation.
“The country now faces the worst locust outbreak in 25 years, with swarms attacking crops across the west of the country and now moving towards the central states.”
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Locusts pose a serious threat to food security
Swarms of locust attack in outskirts village of Ajmer, Rajasthan
The short window for India to address the ongoing locust outbreak will mean that the government will have to identify effective methods to avoid extensive crop losses ahead of the monsoon season
A swarm of locusts can destroy enough food to feed 35,000 people, Mr Laperriere said.
He added: “The short window for India to address the ongoing locust outbreak will mean that the government will have to identify effective methods to avoid extensive crop losses ahead of the monsoon season.
“The new wave of locusts could pave the way for more food insecurity which will leave more people at risk of starvation, in which 194 million in India are already undernourished.
Locusts in Africa
“There are additional concerns over the impact on livelihoods and the damage to the national agricultural economy.
“While it is difficult to control locust swarms, if we act early, we have a chance at preventing a swarm from being formed.
“Locust population interactions, direction of movement and scale of displacement, and the predictability of seasonal rainfall are complex calculations that require open source data and information that is transparently available for researches to effectively predict the chances of an outbreak.
Swarms of locust attack in the walled city of Jaipur, Rajasthan in May
“Resource pooling and creating open source tools can help in monitoring and mitigating an outbreak.
“Data is critical to preventing an outbreak, as rainfall and environment monitoring can help map out areas to be likely affected.
“For example, soil moisture data can help predict an outbreak two to three months in advance, giving plenty of time for preparation.”