India is again facing a threat from our neighbor. But this time it is not terrorism. The present threat may soon be declared epidemic if not controlled soon enough. The danger I am talking about is the present attack of large swarms of LOCUST in Pakistan, which is destroying the crops at an alarming rate.
This year the situation in Pakistan is worse than that of the past two decades. Schistocera gregaria is the culprit behind such scenario. This locust is one of the oldest migratory pest & they live in desert region between West Africa & India. They feed primarily on crops and they have targeted the most fertile region of Pakistan, the Indus region. This swarm of locusts can consume food of about 35000 people in a single day. Can you imagine the severity of threat it possess to a country. The condition has worsened to such an extent that Pakistan had to declare it a National Emergency.
So far no treatment or method has proven to be successful in eradicating these pests. Flamethrower, lasers etc. have all gone in vain. Chemicals like Organophosphate & Chloropyrifos can control the pest, but again there are setbacks. These chemicals are so injurious to health that after they get incorporated into the crops, the crops become inedible even for animals, and if consumed may lead to death. But efforts are being made to prevent them from spreading. In this context, China has proposed that they will send an army of 1, 00,000 ducks to Pakistan, because one duck can eat up to 200 pests in a day. But the problem lies in the fact that ducks can’t survive in the arid region of Pakistan & also the number of ducks is not sufficient as the no. of locusts are reported to be in between 40-80 million.
Thus the given situation gives a glimpse of the devastation which might fall upon us if these locust invade us. Now here is what concerns me. Since these pests can travel at a rate of 150km/day, it won’t take them long to invade us. And even if they do Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan will be the first target. Since this region is called the “wheat-bowl of India”, this will greatly affect the wheat production of our country. The entire wheat production will be in jeopardy. It will lead to great fall in our GDP which in turn will affect our economy. Most important of all, it will hamper the diet of a huge section of India as wheat is one of the staple food in North India. Certain impacts will be on prices of substitute commodities, on the lifestyle of farmers, imbalance in the Ecosystem and many more. The impact will be long lasting if adequate measures are not taken in due time.
Can you imagine what will happen if this unwanted guest arrives at our doorstep???