Bhopal: A swarm of crop-eating pests, locusts, have entered Madhya Pradesh threatening the country's food security. It is the biggest locust attack in the state in 27 years and is likely to grow till monsoon season, officials said.
After wrecking havoc and destroying crops and trees in several parts of Rajasthan, the desert locusts have entered Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh's constituency Budhni in Sehore.
The pests entered through Neemuch district in the state, subsequently travelled to parts of Malwa Nimar and are now close to Bhopal.
The state agriculture department has issued an advisory to the farmers in villages of the affected districts to keep continuous vigil over the desert locusts. They have been asked to keep the insects at bay by using loud sounds through drums, banging of utensils and shouting.
Officials said the insects might halt anywhere for rest in the evenings between 7 pm and 9 pm, and asked the farmers to be on alert and monitor their movement.
Four teams of the central government, besides teams of state agricultural development, are fighting the locusts by using chemical sprays with the help of tractors and fire-brigade vehicles.
Experts have warned that if the swarms are not controlled soon enough, they can destroy the standing Moong cereal crop worth around Rs 8,000 crore. The locusts will also damage nurseries of fruits and vegetables. They said if the insects are not controlled and travel to long distances, cotton and chilly crops worth several thousand crores could also be damaged.
Swarms of desert locusts have been spreading through India from Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh, destroying crops and pastures at a voracious pace.
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