India suggests alliance with Pak, Iran, Bangladesh, Afghanistan to tackle locust menace

New Delhi: As per the directions of the Union Minister of Agriculture, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Sanjay Agarwal chaired a high-level meeting on Desert Locust Control, yesterday. Senior Officers from the State Governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, officers from Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home, National Disaster Management Authority and CMD of HIL (India) Ltd, Special Secretary, Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Agriculture Commissioner and other officers of DAC&FW participated in the meeting.

During the presentation, the locust control operations done from May 2019 to February 2020, challenges faced and its achievements were discussed. Losses caused by locust attack in Rajasthan and Gujarat and status of support under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) was discussed. It was informed that Inter-Ministerial teams had visited both Rajasthan & Gujarat to assess the crop loss so that additional funds, if required may be issued from NDRF as per norms.

Control Operations were reviewed and Secretary DAC&FW appreciated the excellent cooperation and coordination between State Governments and Central Government Departments. Next year’s plan was discussed in detail as per the inputs from different stakeholders. It was planned that the Central Government will conduct awareness campaigns/training for State Government Officials/BSF personnel/Revenue Department officials/farmers at the village level. Agarwal directed officials to organize training and awareness programmes in all 4 states (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana) during March-April.

Report of Senior Locust Forecasting Officer of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who visited India on 16 to 17 January was discussed. He has appreciated India’s efforts, saying, “Swarms would be present in Haryana and Punjab, moving east towards Bangladesh similar to 1950 when there were devastating plagues that lasted up to 14 consecutive years.”

Secretary, DAC&FW advised strengthening joint coordinated efforts with Locust Warning Organization, State Agriculture Department, BSF and Farmers. Agriculture Secretary assured that all required assistance will be provided to State Governments for locust control.

For the next year, control capabilities and logistics (pesticide, vehicle, tractors) will be strengthened at state as well as Central level. Capacity-building programs will also be conducted.

The Secretary said the Coordination Group Meeting of neighbouring countries namely, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh may be convened. He appreciated this year’s outstanding work in locust control and thanked all the participants and expected better efforts in future.

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The ID Staff

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