All help with extended by the government to those affected by the locust attacks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as India faces its worst invasion by the migratory pests in three decades. Seven states - Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana - have reported destruction of crops in the last two weeks by the desert locusts.
"At a time when eastern parts of the country are braving the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan, several states have reported locust attacks. These attacks have reminded us the damage that a small creature can do. These attacks can go on for several days, affect large parts," PM Modi said in his monthly radio address - Mann Ki Baat.
"Whether it's the central government or states or agricultural department, the administration is using modern technology to fight these pests. We are taking note of innovative measures. I am confident that all of us together can brave this situation," he added.
"Help will be given to all those affected," he said.
The pest, which threatens vegetable and pulse crops, have not impacted rabi (winter) produce in India but the government efforts are on to eliminate the insects before monsoon in order to save kharif crops, officials from the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) said on Wednesday.
Locusts belong to the family of grasshoppers and are usually harmless but certain environmental conditions like monsoon and heavy cyclones make them reproduce faster. The swarm is highly mobile and covers 50 to more than 100 km in a day.
Swarms of locusts are expected to reach as far as Bihar and Odisha in July but there are less chances of the migratory pests reaching south India, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The UN agency warned that "several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Orissa followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon."