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Drones join the fight against Indian locust plague

written by Dylan Nicholson | June 2, 2020

In a midnight mission, Jaipur officials have used drones to kill locusts in the northern province.

This was the second time in a week that a drone has been used to spray pesticides on locust swarms in Jaipur district.

India and Pakistan are both battling another crisis as they fight the coronavirus, their worst locust attack in nearly three decades.

The flying insects have crossed over to India in a wave of desert swarms from neighboring Pakistan, sweeping several parts of the country and threatening to damage crops.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in a Sunday radio address that many parts of the country have been affected by locust attacks, adding that efforts are on to help farmers and reduce crop losses by using modern techniques to tackle the crisis.

“I am sure that together not only will we be able to battle out this crisis that is looming on our agricultural sector, but also manage to salvage our crops,” PM Modi said.

Helicopters and drones have been readied and put into action to fight off the advancing insects.


The Union Agriculture Ministry previously said that 15 sprayers will be procured from the UK in a fortnight and plans are in place to deploy drones and helicopters for the aerial spray of pesticides.

Representative image only

A drone was used to kill locusts in Viratnagar in Jaipur district on Saturday night and Sunday morning, as the area where the crop devouring pests settled was too hilly and inaccessible for tractor-mounted sprayers, said officials.

Earlier, a drone was used in Samode, about 40 kilometres north-west of Jaipur, on the night of 26 May. Officials said the central government has sent this drone to Rajasthan for locust control operations.

“We got information about a three-kilometre by one-kilometre swarm in three villages of Viratnagar on Saturday. We surveyed the area and found the pest present on 230 hectares but the area was difficult to access so we decided to use drone,” said BR Kadwa, deputy director of agriculture department in Jaipur.

“We managed to kill only half the swarm,” he said, adding that so far nine swarms have been detected in Jaipur district.

Locust outbreaks were reported in Rajasthan in May 2019 after 26 years without a locust swarming event. The attack continued until February this year and the pests devoured crops on at least 6,70,000 hectares across 12 districts.


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