Using Remote-Sensing Expertise To Identify The Duration Of Locust Attacks As Well As Assess The Intensity Of Damages Done By Locusts On Crops – An India Case Study
The 2019-20 locust infestation in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia is an outbreak of desert locusts, which is threatening the food supply across the region. The outbreak is the worst in 70 years in Kenya and the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia, Somalia, and India. The plague began in June 2019 and has continued through 2020.
The current outbreak began with heavy rains in 2018 in the Rub’ al Khali of the Arabian Peninsula. In Spring 2019, swarms spread from these areas, and by June 2019, the locusts spread north to Iran, Pakistan, and India and south to East Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa. By the end of 2019, there were swarms in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Oman, Iran, India, and Pakistan.
As of April 2020, efforts to control the locusts are being hampered by ongoing restrictions in travel and shipping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Situation in India
The swarms in India came from Iran and Pakistan, but the situation has been brought under control with the help of pesticides and specialist equipment. Although the extent of damage is yet to be assessed, fortunately, there is no major loss. Governmental sources said that several timely measures and a change in wind direction have prevented a spread and large-scale damage to the rapeseed and cumin seed crops. The outbreak began in 2019 in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Three villages in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, which shares a border with Pakistan’s desert areas, came under fresh locust attacks from January 2019 onwards. In Gujarat, locust attacks occurred in December 2019 and they damaged crops, mainly rapeseed and cumin seed, planted on about 17,000 hectares. Parts of western Rajasthan have been destroyed with crops spread over at least 350,000 hectares of land. The districts adversely affected by the large scale coordinated attacks by locusts include Sri Ganganagar, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Churu, and Nagaur. India has been able to bring swarms of desert locusts under control in two key oilseed producing states.
In May 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, parts of India such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were severely affected by locust swarms measuring a kilometer wide, the worst locust attack in 27 years.
SkyMap Global’s contribution to damage assessment