Jan. 9, 2020
The biggest locust swarm to hit India’s Gujarat in more than a quarter of a century has resulted in mass damage to key crops in the western state.
More than 25,000 hectares (61,776 acres) of wheat, rapeseed, cumin and potatoes were attacked, with at least a third of the crops damaged in 75% of the affected areas, according to the state’s directorate of agriculture.
Although the locust outbreak has been brought under control with insecticides, some farmers in the state have lost their entire crops and may need replanting, the government’s agriculture department said. About 285 villages were swarmed by locusts and farmers will be given compensation of 18,500 rupees ($257) per hectare, the state’s Agriculture Minister R.C. Faldu said in Twitter posts.
The swarms are likely to have crossed over from Pakistan, whose economy is at risk after the bugs gorged on wheat, cotton, rapeseed and other crops over six months. In Pakistan, authorities tasked with protecting crops have hired aircraft to spray pesticides in the worst-affected regions.
Cotton, which Gujarat is a main producer of, was spared as the fiber is not widely grown in the areas that were attacked, the state’s agriculture department said. The acreage under winter crops totaled 3.55 million hectares as of last week, it said.