Malappuram: The desert locust, which caused extensive damage to crops in north India, was noticed at Malappuram district in Kerala also. The locusts appeared in the farm of Suresh Kumar at Choolattippara in Oorngattiri panchayat last week.
As soon as he spotted the new insect in his farm, Suresh Kumar suspected that it was the desert locust and approached Krishi Bhavan, the local office of the Agriculture Department. Officials soon reached Suresh Kumar's farm and confirmed that the creature was the desert locust.
According to Gavas Ragesh, an assistant professor at Banana Research Station, Kannara and Berin Pathose, assistant professor at Kerala Agricultural University, Mannuthy, the locusts seen in Malappuram belonged to the same species that destroyed farmlands in north Indian states.
A search was launched in nearby areas but the desert locust was not seen anywhere else. Inspections in the region were carried out by a team led by agricultural officers U Raihanath and T Najmuddeen and agricultural assistant N Anoop.
'No need to panic'
Meanwhile, experts said that farmers need not be alarmed about the locusts noticed at Oorngattiri. According to them, these locusts were in their solitary phase. "Locusts in this phase are commonly seen in Kerala. But if they appear in large numbers the matter should be reported to the Krishi Bhavan," said principal agricultural officer P T Geetha.
Desert locust is notorious for destroying crops and had laid waste 6,70,000 hectares of farmland in 12 districts of Rajasthan till February this year. Locusts can multiply rapidly with one insect laying up to 300 eggs and forming large swarms. As per data with the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), one swarm of desert locusts can consume food enough for 3.4 crore people.