Reports of locust attacking crops and plantations across the state have been emerging since Friday. The first such case was reported in Krishnagiri district's Neralagiri village while the second instance was recorded in Kanyakumari district's Thiruvettar village. And while district authorities have conducted an investigation and told residents there is no need for alarm in Krishnagiri, farmers in Kanyakumari are still awaiting instructions from the state government.
Several states in the country including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have seen unusually large swarms of locusts attack crops. However, experts had stated that the menace never spread beyond the Deccan plateau and chances of Tamil Nadu facing such an issue were remote.
Speaking to the media in Neralagiri, district collector Prabhakar said, "We got information that there are an increased number of locusts in Neralagiri. As per the Tamil Chief Minister's directions, we are ensuring that farmers and common man are not affected by the insects. The Agricultural department and experts from the Agricultural University have arrived at the village to investigate. People don't have to fear that these locusts are from the deserts. They are from the erukan (a local species) plant. Since they have eaten the erukan leaves they are moving on to banana plantation leaves. They are not affecting other crops. Despite this, there were joint efforts to stop the insects and the necessary pesticides were sprayed. No other area in our district has been affected."
The Collector further outlines the plan of action to create awareness.
"We have informed all district administrators and asked them to work in consultation with local villages. We are following a two-step action plan. First, we will spread awareness to farmers and ask them to report to the agricultural department if they have such insects and we will provide them with pesticide to handle it. Second, we want the media to bring the matter to the notice of departments to tackle the menace," he told the media.
In Thiruvattar meanwhile, a report by Puthiya Thalaimurai showed locusts swarming crops and eating into leaves. Farmers have reportedly noticed that these locusts are not the usual yellow and green species that are native to the area. Visuals showed that they are brown and white and agriculturalists fear that they would destroy crops.
The agricultural department has taken samples to investigate the species of insect and determine how to tackle the problem.