KATHMANDU, July 15: Incessant rainfall across the country has contributed to minimize the effects of locust swarms that entered Nepal from India, according to agriculture officials.
Government officials estimated that some eight million locusts entered Nepal for the first time and about 1.5 million more locusts entered the country the second time. However, they are said to have remained inactive as the country has been receiving incessant rainfall for the past several days.
Experts say that rainfall seriously affects the mobility of locusts. “The incessant rainfall across the nation has not let them actively devour crops and migrate frequently,” said Ram Krishna Subedi, who is a Senior Plant Protection Officer at the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Control Centre (PQPMC).
A swarm of locusts that entered Nepal via Dang district on July 12 has been reported to have moved north-west through Rolpa, Rukum and Pyuthan districts. A few thousand locusts from Nawalparasi have taken refuge in the Beni Triveni area and are expected to head west as the influence of southeast wind is dominant now, according to the locust advisory issued by the PQPMC.
Locusts that had entered Nepal for the first time on June 27. They are now scattered and are still present in small numbers in districts like Baglung, Myagdi, Rukum, Rolpa, Jajarkot, Dolpa, Jumla, Kalikot and other districts. “Despite their presence, they have remained inactive and people have not reported any significant damages to crops,” Subedi told Republica.
According to PQPMC, locusts in the bordering areas of Indian State of Uttar Pradesh are expected to move westward through the Mid-Western and Western Tarai along with the wind. Although the swarm locusts from Rajasthan were heading towards the east increasing the risk of their entrance in Nepal, there are now fears that they might be deviated elsewhere after the wind changed its direction to the west.
As there is a possibility of them entering different areas of Mid-Western and Western Tarai districts in the near future, the authorities concerned in Kathmandu have requested stakeholders to stay vigilant in those regions. “The stakeholders including local and provincial level bodies have been directed to alert the locals of the possible areas where there is a chance of locust swarms entering by spreading information,” he said.
Locust swarms in Nepal are scattered in the hilly areas as the wind there easily separates them and most of them get eaten by the birds. He said that the situation is not serious in Nepal but it is necessary for stakeholders to remain alert if by any chance the swarms make their ways to Nepal again. “We have circulated the notice requesting them to do the needful in order to minimize the damage,” he further added.