In the face of a massive locust attack on Indian crops, the Agriculture Ministry said it has upped locust containment measures and sprinkling operations in various districts. These include over 303 locations across 47,000 hectares in 20 districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, UP and Punjab, the ministry said.
RG Agarwal, Founder and Group Chairman of Dhanuka Agritech said, that Indian pesticide manufacturers have the relevant pesticides to deal with the issue. However, he warned, stalled production and unavailability of labour due to the lockdown might cause supply problems.
Agarwal also said lack of raw material from China due to suspended imports, is another area of concern. He added that the problem is grave and should be dealt with on a far footing as the potential of this swarm to grow is very real.
Former Agriculture Secretary Siraj Hussain said that India and Pakistan need to collaborate to tackle the menace as it affects both the countries.
Speaking about a potential ban on 27 pesticides by the government, Agarwal said the impact of withdrawal of these pesticides would hinder the ability of farmers to protect their crops at this juncture. It didn’t pose any questions on the veracity of the data provided by these manufacturers.
“Locust control is a big issue, if agro-molecules like chlorpyrifos etc which are recommended for use against this, are banned, then I don’t know what’s going to happen to our agriculture,” he added.
“The government does not know what’s happening. Yesterday in a webinar with the Secretary, chemicals (sic), he said he is not aware that these pesticides are banned,” he added.
As of now there is no impact on farmers as Kharif crop has not been sown in most parts of north India, he added. It is yet to be sown in states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, parts of Gujarat, and the Bundelkhand region.
The government is mulling a ban on 27 agrochemical pesticides over non-submission of safety data by the companies which own these molecules. The move will not only hurt domestic retail-focused agri manufacturers who sell directly to the farmers but also hit Indian exports to countries such as US, Australia, and Japan.
The substitute for these pesticides will be expensive alternative products from major international MNCs such as Bayer. Is this a good step on part of the government given the country is faced with a locust menace just ahead of the Kharif season.