Agri Department warns of possible Locust outbreak | Sunday Observer

Agri Department warns of possible Locust outbreak

Locust outbreak that has left a devastating effect on farmers in countries in Africa, Pakistan and India could pose a threat to the local Maha season harvests, Agricultural Department Director General Dr. Wijesiri Weerakoon said.

He said the Department has taken steps to brief farmers, especially in North and East provinces and Mannar, Puttalam areas on the possibility of locust swarms. Leaflets are being distributed to make farmers aware of the possible outbreak.

Large swarms of locust have spread across Africa, prompting Somalia to declare a national emergency. According to reports, locust has spread to India with Rajastan and Gujarat taking the worst blow.

“The outbreak is mostly seen in Western parts of India,” Dr. Weerakoon said, adding that if the swarm comes to Sri Lanka, it will take time.

Meanwhile, Agriculture State Minister Vidura Wickramanayaka said there is a possibility for the locust outbreak to wither away as it is a natural phenomenon.

“We see these types of outbreaks from time to time. The thing with the locust is that it can be devastating,” he said.

State Minister Wickramanayaka called farmers to inform development officers of the Department of Agrarian Development if they see a new type of insect in their areas.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation recently said the current situation is extremely alarming in three areas, including southwest Asia.

“Heavy rains on the southern coast of Iran where swarms were laying eggs, would allow favourable conditions for two generations of breeding that could cause a considerable increase in locust numbers,” it stated, adding “Residual adult groups and swarms are still present along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border, while some swarms have moved to adjacent areas to the north”.