AfterCOVID-19,India’s next challenge could be mega-sized locust attack this summer
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s response to natural disasters is expected to be tested
again this summer when a giant locust storm from the Horn of Africa is expected to attack
farmlands in South Asia.
Official sources told The Hindu that the government was preparing for a “two-front war”—
one, which was ongoing against the COVID-19 infections and anotherto ensure food security
— in anticipation of the locust attack on farms.
“We are preparing for a worst-case scenario. Starting from the Horn of Africa, and joined by
desert locusts from breeding grounds en route, one locust stream can travel over a land
corridor passing over Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India,
impacting farmlands in Punjab, Haryana and the Indo-Gangetic plain. But another stream
passing overthe Indian Ocean can directly attack farms in peninsularIndia, and then head
towards Bangladesh. Together, this can cause a serious food security issue,”the source said.
The destructive power of a typical locust swarm, which can vary from less than one square
kilometre to several hundred square kilometres, is enormous, says the Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) on its website. A one square kilometre swarm, containing about 40 million
locusts, can in a day eat as much food as 35,000 people, assuming that each individual
consumes 2.3 kg of food per day.
An FAO situation update of April 21 paints a grim picture. It spotlights that desert locusts,
which are breeding this spring in East Africa, Yemen and southern Iran, will gravely heighten
the threat to food security in the Afro-Asian region