India combats locust attack amid Covid-19 pandemic

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India combats locust attack amid Covid-19 pandemic

An invasion by desert locusts has hit large swathes of India and Pakistan in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC has reported.

Large and aggressive swarms of these crop-devouring short-horned insects have invaded more than two dozen districts covering more than 50,000 hectares of desert areas of western India. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are the worst affected states.

In neighbouring Pakistan, authorities declared a nationwide emergency in February, saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades. Local reports say that farmers are fighting the "worst locust plague in nearly three decades" and the swarms were decimating crops and sending prices of food soaring.

Some 38% of Pakistan's area spread over the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab are "breeding grounds" for locusts, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Relations between the two hostile nuclear-armed neighbours have been frozen for years. But this hasn't come in the way of India and Pakistan working closely to fight these migratory insects, say officials.

The locusts eat green vegetation, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and plants. An average small locust swarm can eat as much food in a day as about 35,000 people.

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