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Swarm of locust species attacks crops in TN

Chennai: A swarm of locust species has attacked banana, rubber and other crops in parts of plantation-dominated districts of Tamil Nadu, causing concern among farmers over the possible destruction of their crops, but the government assured them that the agriculture department has been instructed to tackle the “menace”.

Since the last few days, spotted coffee grasshopper, Bombay locust and the Crytacanthacris Tartarica, a type of grasshopper, have been mistaken for the swarm of desert locusts, which have been ravaging the crops in north-west India.

According to a member of the Grasshopper Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, none of the three species noticed in the Nilgiris and in the vicinity are of immediate

threat.

Farmers in Poovankodu and Viyanur in Kanyakumari district bordering Kerala have claimed that the ‘locust’ has ravaged the banana and rubber crops to a large extent.

State Revenue Minister R B Udayakumar on Saturday assured farmers that the agriculture department has been instructed to tackle the “menace”.

Maintaining that the ‘vettukili’ (grasshopper) attack should not cause apprehension, Udayakumar said the agriculture department officials have been asked to protect

the crops.

Earlier, a farmer in Khandal near Udhagamandalam who noticed a swarm on Friday, managed to capture some of the species, and informed the district administration. Nilgiris Collector Innocent Divya, who verified with experts, assured the farmers that the species captured in her district was not the desert locust. Nevertheless, experts from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University would soon undertake an inspection and ascertain the facts.

Meanwhile, DMK President M K Stalin urged that the state government should act on the matter immediately. “Instead of continuing to be apathetic, as it had been in managing the coronavirus spread, the state government should immediately launch steps to protect the crops,” he said in a statement here. His party legislator from Kanyakumari district T Manothangaraj urged the authorities to save the crops without resorting to the use of chemical sprays to eliminate the ‘locust’.

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