A plague of locusts enters Nepal, a new threat in the midst of a pandemic

Kathmandu – Nepalese authorities confirmed on Saturday the arrival in Nepal of a plague of desert locusts from India, a new threat to the food security of the Himalayan country in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

The lobsters were sighted this morning on the plains of southern Nepal, in the districts of Bara, Sarlahi, Parsa and Rupandehi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Hari Bahadur KC, told Efe, although for now they still do not know their magnitude.

The movement of the pests depends on the winds, and for the past two days they blew from west to north. “That was the main reason for the arrival of these migratory insects in Nepal” from neighboring India, the spokesperson stressed.

Locust clouds, which can travel 200 or 300 kilometers during the day while resting at night, can reach sizes of between one kilometer and four square kilometers.

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, the last major attack of a locust infestation in Nepal occurred in 1996, when these insects destroyed about 80% of the crops in Chitwan, in the south of the country.

The arrival of locusts in Nepal also occurs amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the economy paralyzed for months by confinement measures to stop the virus, which has left 12,309 confirmed cases and 28 deaths in the country.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an adult lobster can consume its own weight per day, about two grams, so a cloud with 40 million insects consumes the same as 35,000 people.

However, the coordinator of the working group established by the Ministry of Agriculture for locust prevention, Sahadev Humagain, explained to Efe that fortunately a preliminary report suggests that lobsters seen in Nepal are not adults.

Locusts found in the Tarai region (south) are immature pink lobsters and not mature yellow lobsters. Ripe lobster causes widespread damage to crops “he stressed.

Furthermore, Humagain added, by covering long distances during the day driven by westerly winds, lobsters are not expected to stay in Nepal too long.

Another positive factor is that the planting season for rice crops is currently taking place coinciding with the monsoon rains, so all the fields are covered with water, so “they will not destroy food,” he said.

It will affect, nuanced, the vegetable crops, so the necessary plan to combat the plague is being studied.

During the last months the locust plague has also severely affected Pakistan and India, where this morning the cloud of this insects could be sighted in places such as Gurugram, a satellite city of New Delhi and an important business center.


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