99.99% chance locusts won’t enter Karnataka: Minister

99.99% chance that locusts won’t enter Karnataka: Minister

Agriculture Minister B C Patil on Thursday said there was a “99.99%” chance that Karnataka will not face a locust attack thanks to a weather forecast that the wind will take them away from the state. 

The government has, however, taken precautions in the border districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi, Koppal and Yadgir that are vulnerable. The locust swarm is some 450 km away from the Bidar border, the minister said. 

‘Wind not towards state’

“Locusts can travel 150-200 km along with the wind. They can’t fly against the wind. The good news is that the wind isn’t blowing towards Karnataka. Experts have told us that the wind is set to go northeast from the southwest,” Patil said. “There’s a 99.99% chance that a locust attack won’t happen. So, farmers need not worry or panic,” Patil told a news conference after meeting officials to take stock of the locust threat. 

As a precautionary measure, a committee comprising the directors of agriculture and horticulture has been asked to be vigilant in the Bidar, Kalaburagi, Koppal and Yadgir districts to handle any exigency. “We have kept one lakh litres of insecticides and pesticides such as Chlorpyrifos and Lambda cyhalothrin in stock that can be sprayed,” Patil said. 

Fire scare

He also advised farmers to use fire and beat drums to divert locusts, if they came.

“This (locust swarm) started in South Africa. It reached Afghanistan, Balochistan and Pakistan. From there, it came to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra,” he said. “The swarm can be 10 km long and 2 km wide. Each locust eats about 1-2 gram of food, but a swarm can destroy an entire field.” 

Locusts feed on crops only between 4 pm and 7 pm, Patil said. “They live on trees the rest of the time. That’s when we can use fire tenders or drones to spray insecticides on them,” Patil said. 

The government has nearly Rs 200 crore under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to deal with a locust attack. “The SDRF outlay is Rs 1,054 crore, of which 30% is for Covid-19. We can use 25% of what’s remaining for pest control and crop protection,” Patil said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox