In India only the locusts were missing

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India is experiencing several problems: coronavirus infections have more than tripled since the beginning of the month, reaching over 150 thousand; the unemployment rate, precisely because of the epidemic, is 24 percent; in the Delhi area there have been the highest temperatures of the last 18 years, close to 50 degrees, and as if all this were not enough, there is now an invasion of locusts in the western part of the country.

The huge swarms of locusts come from Pakistan and Iran, and have been attracted to the city by the lack of food in their movements: since the harvest season has already passed, the locusts have not found crops to feed on and have therefore sought food in cities, especially Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan.

The problem, however, does not only concern India: the locusts have also caused damage in other countries of the Indian subcontinent, leading Pakistan to declare a state of emergency, and in recent weeks there has been a second invasion also in East Africa – especially Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – after that of February. According to the scientists, the invasion in Africa and that in India are not connected, but have the same cause: climate change. The rising temperatures and abundant rains that occurred last year on East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula created the ideal conditions for locusts to thrive.

The locusts now in India crossed the border with Pakistan in late April, and the two countries decided to temporarily put aside their differences to solve the problem: India offered to give Pakistan and the Iran a supply of pesticides to treat plants within their territories.

Locusts on a fruit tree in Pakistan, 27 May 2020 (EPA / JAMAL TARAQAI via ANSA)

The locust is considered by FAO among the most harmful parasitic species in the world: a single swarm of 1 square kilometer contains about 40 million specimens that can travel more than two hundred kilometers and eat as much as 35 thousand people in a single day, devastating entire crops and causing famines.





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