Locust swarms are turning into a diplomatic issue between India and Pakistan

Locusts attack in JaipurBCCL
  • The spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Anurag Srivastava announced that India has already asked Pakistan to open channels of communication to address the growing desert locust problem in India — but they are yet to respond.
  • Hindustan Pesticides Limited is in the process of producing 20 thousand litres of malathion pesticide to address the problem that now plagues at least five Indian states.
  • Srivastava said that malathion has proven to be an effective deterrent against desert locusts in the past.
Locusts swarms are causing devastation to India’s agriculture and there is silence on the Pakistan side of things. “We are yet to receive a response from Pakistan,” said the spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Anurag Srivastava.

During a press conference last night, he disclosed that India and Pakistan have a channel of communication — at the level of locust officials — to address the issue in annual meetings. Normally, these meetings happen in the month of June. “In view of the alarming locust problem this year, we have suggested that this mechanism be activated and coordinated control operations be undertaken,” he said. However, Pakistan has not engaged on the issue yet.

Annual locust swarms normally stay centred around the state of Rajasthan. This time around the problem has escalated to other states as well — including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Officials now fear that India’s national capital, New Delhi, may also be under threat.

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Hindustan Pesticides Limited is producing 20 thousand litres of pesticide
“We are in the process of supply 20 thousand litres of malathion pesticide to run for these desert locust operations,” said Srivastava. The pesticide is manufactured by Hindustan Pesticides Limited and has been found “very effective” in controlling desert locusts, according to him.

In low levels, the use of malathion is not harmful to humans. However, high amounts of pesticide for extended periods of time in the air, water or even the food can cause difficulty breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps and other undesirable effects, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ( ATSDR).

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