A massive locust invasion has destroyed thousands of hectares of crops in Gujarat, authorities said, with some experts on Friday terming it the worst such attack in 25 years.
While officials have attempted to tackle the swarm with pesticides, farmers have deployed drums to drive away the insects, with videos showing schoolgirls banging on steel plates, due to local beliefs that loud noise repels them.
The invasion has damaged crops in half a dozen districts, a government official, Mr. Punamchand Parmar said on Thursday. More than 5,000 hectares have been devastated in one district alone, Mr Parmar said. "N'arly 25 percent of the locusts had been destroyed using pesticide. However, it will take another 4-5 days to exterminate them completely,'he added.
'Their flight path was initially towards Pakistan but due to change in wind direction and moisture, they landed in... North Gujarat,' he said. The head of the entomology department at Anand Agriculture University, Dr. P. K. Borad, said, 'This is the worst locust attack witnessed in Gujarat in over two decades or so.' 'Such a huge swarm of locust was last seen in 1994.'
The Gujarat Agriculture Minister, Mr. R. C. Faldu, said that from Friday onwards, 100 tractors carrying pesticides would be sent to the affected villages. But villagers were not leaving anything to chance, with many walking around the affected farms and banging drums to chase away the insects.
'We have lost everything in our village,' lamented one man.