The Indian Agriculture is highly prone to Desert Locust. The Desert Locust is a trans-boundary pest which can cause irreparable damages.
Locust Control and Research is a sub component under the Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ), a scheme under Green Revolution (Krishonnati Yojana) through which regulatory, monitoring, surveillance and capacity building functions are performed.
Locust Warning Organisation
In order to keep the menace of locust at bay Locust Warning Organization (LWO) has been established.
Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The Department has established 11 Nos. of Locust Control Offices (LCOs) established under LWO in Scheduled Desert Area of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The LWO monitors, forewarns and controls locust in Scheduled Desert Area, conduct research on locust and grasshoppers, keep liaison and coordination with National and International Organizations and undertakes HRD through training and demonstration
Preventive control strategy
All countries affected by desert locust generally adopt a preventive control strategy for the management of desert locust in order to reduce the frequency, duration and intensity of plagues.
This strategy consists of regular surveys to provide early warning and contingency planning to allow early and effective response before the situation becomes out of control. LWO (comprising of all field units) undertakes regular surveys in the scheduled desert area of Rajasthan and Gujarat to monitor the presence of desert locust and ecological conditions. During the survey, an assessment is made to determine, if the locust numbers have crossed the economic threshold level (ETL) which is 10,000 adults/ha. and 5-6 hoppers/bush that may require control.
The constant watch and surveys are undertaken in desert areas with green vegetation (surface) and about two weeks after receiving the rain. These surveys are done regularly during the entire year, but most importantly from May to November when desert locust activity is considered at its peak due to congenial breeding conditions. This coincides with the monsoon season in Rajasthan and Gujarat. During this time, the frequency of surveys is doubled from May to November as compared to December to April.
The surveys are undertaken from sunrise to mid-day and for a few hours in the evening before sunset in the temperature range of 20–38°C. Whenever and wherever the population of desert locust is found exceeding the economical threshold level, immediate control measures are pressed into operation. Control operations are not conducted when locust numbers are low, isolated and scattered because this would not be effective and it would be harmful to the environment. In addition to LWO, concerned state authorities are also requested to keep constant watch over the development of locust activities and inform to the nearest Locust Circle office, if any development is seen and further action is required.
India has witnessed several locust plagues and upsurges since 1812 to 1997. More recently, there have been several control campaigns that were conducted. Since December 2011, no locust upsurges have taken place.