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Locust swarms enter Nepal

Kathmandu, June 28 (IANS) Nepalese officials have confirmed that swarms of desert locusts, which ravage crops, have entered the country after more than two decades.

The locusts were spotted in Nepal’s southern plains of Bara, Sarlahi, Parsa and Rupandehi districts on Saturday morning, Hari Bahadur KC, spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, told Efe news.

The government officials, however, have not ascertained the scope of the swarms that have wreaked havoc in 60 countries.

The movement of the migratory bugs depends on the winds, and in Nepal it was blowing west to north for two consecutive days, said KC.

According to the spokesperson, the locusts could have migrated to Nepal via Varanasi in India.

The Ministry said Nepal experienced its first locusts attack in 1962.

However, the worst locust invasion took place in 1996 when the swarms destroyed 80 per cent of crops in Chitwan and partially damaged crops in the Makwanpur, Mahottari and Bara districts.

The arrival of the insects could deal a double blow to Nepal as it comes amid the spread of the coronavirus. Confirmed cases as of Saturday climbed to 12,309 with 28 deaths.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is considered the most dangerous of all migratory pest species in the world.

They can easily affect more than 65 of the world’s poorest countries, can reproduce rapidly, migrate long distances and devastate crops and pasture.

–IANS

ksk/

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