India says locust control operations carried out over 275,000 hectares in 9 states

India's agricultural ministry Tuesday said it has carried out locust control operations on 275,887 hectares of land in nine states.

Of the 275,887 hectares, Locust Circle Offices (LCOs) in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have carried out control measures on 143,422 hectares, as local governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Haryana and Bihar have carried out control measures on 132,465 hectares.

The agricultural ministry has pressed in aerial spraying capacity for anti-locust operations. A Bell helicopter has been deployed in Rajasthan for use in Scheduled Desert Area as per the need.

The authorities have also sought assistance from Indian Air Force (IAF) to conduct trials in anti-locust operation by using a Mi-17 helicopter.

"IAF started participating in anti-locust operations from 5th July by deploying the Mi-17 helicopter for aerial spraying in Jodhpur district. This is first of its kind event in the history of locust control in India," the agriculture ministry said.

Meanwhile, officials said five companies with 15 drones are deployed at Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Nagaur and Phalodi in Rajasthan for effective control of locusts on tall trees and in inaccessible areas through spraying of pesticides.

"Presently 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deployed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and more than 200 Central government personnel are engaged in locust control operations. In addition, today 20 spray equipments have reached India," the ministry said.

According to the ministry, except Rajasthan, no significant crop losses have been reported in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Bihar and Haryana.

Last month the swarms reached Indian capital city - New Delhi, prompting authorities to issue advisories.

Locust, a large-sized insect is a short-horned grasshopper of migratory habit, which attacks crops or green vegetation. It causes extensive damage due to its feeding behaviour.

Officials say the locust swarms usually enter the scheduled desert area of India through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June and July with the advent of monsoon. This year, however, the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier.

The migratory pest has the ability to fly hundreds of kilometres collectively. 

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