MANAGING LOCUST SWARMS THROUGH SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE: A PATH TO A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT
Author: Kanishk Dev Sharma, III year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur.
In India, locust swarms pose a serious danger to agriculture since they can destroy crops and result in substantial financial loss. These swarms, which are frequently brought on by environmental variables like variations in temperature and rainfall patterns, occur when a huge number of locusts congregate and travel. In light of this menace, India needs sustainable agriculture practises more than ever since they can help control and avoid locust swarms while also fostering long-term environmental and economic sustainability. Farmers may boost soil fertility, foster biodiversity, and minimise their reliance on chemical pesticides and fertilisers by using sustainable agricultural practises, all of which can make agricultural systems more robust and sustainable.
HISTORY OF LOCUST SWARMS
Since the 16th century, there have been documented locust swarms in India, which has made them a persistent issue for centuries. However, since 2018, there have been numerous outbreaks reported, and both the frequency and severity of locust swarms in India have significantly increased. In the year 2019, locust swarms decimated wheat, mustard, and cumin standing crops in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. The swarms began to impact crops including cotton, sugarcane, and vegetables in other states in 2020, like as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab. The massive devastation of crops by locust swarms can result in considerable financial losses for farmers and the agricultural industry. Furthermore, locust swarms can have an impact on the overall economy because they may cause food prices to rise as a result of imbalances in supply and demand, which could fuel inflationary pressures. Vulnerable populations, such as those with low incomes or those living in poverty, may be disproportionately affected by this. In order to ensure food security and economic stability in India, locust swarm management and control are essential.
CAUSES OF LOCUST SWARMS AND EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
A complex interplay of environmental, biological, and human variables leads to locust swarms. One of the primary causes of locust swarms is thought to be changes in temperature patterns brought on by global warming. Warmer temperatures and more rain can encourage locust reproduction, which will increase their number and increase the probability of swarms occurring. Locust swarms are influenced by human activities such as land use changes, urbanisation, and agricultural practises. The elimination of natural locust predators and a reduction in biodiversity can result from the conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural land, the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and other factors. As a result, the population of locusts can spread out of control. Additionally, a feedback loop that exacerbates the issue can be created when human activities and climate change interact. For instance, changes in land-use patterns brought on by climate change, such as the growth of agricultural area, may result in locust swarms.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND LOCUST MANAGEMENT
The goal of sustainable agriculture is to produce food and other agricultural products while balancing economic, social, and environmental concerns. Utilising farming methods that support long-term sustainability and the welfare of farmers and their communities is part of it. Farmers may use a number of sustainable agricultural practises to manage and avoid locust swarms. Crop rotation is one of these methods and it entails planting several crops in the same field in a predetermined order. This procedure can aid in preventing the accumulation of illnesses and pests that harm a particular crop, such as locusts. Farmers may enhance soil fertility, lower their reliance on artificial fertilisers, and lessen the allure of their fields to locusts and other pests by cultivating a diversity of crops.
Intercropping, which entails simultaneously growing many crops on the same area, is another sustainable agricultural practise. This method can assist in establishing a complex and diversified environment that is less alluring to pests like locusts. Additionally, intercropping can reduce the need for chemical pesticides and enhance soil health. Another sustainable agricultural practise that can aid in preventing and controlling locust swarms is integrated pest management (IPM). IPM uses a range of strategies, including as biological, cultural, and chemical ones, to control pests. Farmers may lessen the need for chemical pesticides, which can kill beneficial insects and result in the development of pesticide-resistant pests, by utilising a variety of strategies.
In India, the legal aspects related to locust swarms and sustainable agricultural practices fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. To prevent locust swarms and encourage sustainable agricultural practises, the ministry has put in place a number of measures, including early warning systems, monitoring, and control measures. Incentives and subsidies from the government help farmers embrace sustainable agricultural practises such crop rotation, organic farming, and integrated pest management. These steps support sustainable agricultural practises in the nation and lessen the damage locust swarms do to crops.There is a legislative framework in place in India to control the import of plants and plant components in order to stop the entry and spread of pests and diseases. A significant piece of law that tries to stop the introduction of pests and illnesses into the nation is the Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003. The import of plants, plant products, and other materials that may harbour pests and diseases is now subject to inspection and regulation by the Plant Quarantine Authorities. The manufacturing, marketing, and use of pesticides in the nation are also governed under the pesticides Act of 1968. The act strives to guarantee that only secure and reliable pesticides are applied to manage diseases and pests. The Biological Diversity Act of 2002 also encourages the preservation and sustainable exploitation of biological resources, including pests and their natural enemies.
CASE STUDIES OF SUCCESSFUL SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES IN INDIA
Numerous case studies from India show how sustainable agricultural practises can be used to control locust swarms and boost crop yields. Here are a few illustrations:
1. The use of intercropping and crop rotation: To prevent the accumulation of pests and illnesses and lessen the allure of their fields to locusts, farmers in the state of Rajasthan have implemented intercropping and crop rotation practises. Farmers have been able to decrease crop losses brought on by locust swarms and boost overall yields by intercropping crops like moth bean, guar, and cluster bean with their primary crops.
2. The use of biopesticides: To control locust swarms, farmers in Uttarakhand have started employing biopesticides including neem oil and microbial pesticides. These natural insecticides have been demonstrated to be successful in minimising the damage caused by locust swarms and to be less destructive to the environment and beneficial insects than chemical pesticides.
3. Organic farming is being encouraged by the government in the state of Maharashtra as a strategy to enhance soil health and lessen the effects of locust swarms. Organic farming can provide a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system that is less susceptible to locust swarms by using less chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
Last but not least, the recent locust swarms in India have brought to light the pressing need for sustainable agricultural practises that can aid in preventing and managing these destructive insect invasions. Crop rotation, intercropping, and integrated pest control are examples of sustainable agricultural practises that provide efficient and ecologically friendly ways to manage locust swarms while simultaneously enhancing soil health and crop yields. Adopting these sustainable agricultural techniques can significantly help to lessen the effects of locust swarms on farmers and their communities, as successful case studies in India have shown. Governments and organisations may aid in the development of more resilient and sustainable agricultural systems that are better prepared to stop and control locust swarms by supporting sustainable agricultural practises and offering assistance and education to farmers. Prioritising sustainable farming practises is essential to safeguarding both our environment and our crops in the face of escalating climate change and human activities that cause locust swarms. We can create a more sustainable and resilient future for our agriculture and our planet by cooperating to promote and execute sustainable farming practises.
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