NEW DELHI, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government has rushed 11 teams to its western state of Gujarat to contain a locust outbreak, officials said on Friday.
Gujarat's Banaskantha, Mehsana, Kutch, Patan and Sabarkantha districts were witnessing an outbreak of locust swarm.
"The centre has sent its teams to Gujarat to tackle the invasion of locusts entering various districts of the state from Pakistan side and damaging crops," India's junior agriculture minister Parshottam Rupala said. "The central government will provide all possible help to Gujarat and the problem is expected to be solved in six to seven days."
Swarms of locusts - which are mainly tropical grasshoppers - have invaded and destroyed crops like mustard, castor, fennel, cumin, cotton, potato, wheat and jatropha spread over thousands of hectares in several districts of Gujarat.
The visiting teams are likely to take necessary steps to contain the spread of locust by spraying of pesticides. According to officials, the teams will remain stationed in the affected areas until the problem is solved.
The swarms have become the main worry for the farmers who have approached local authorities for help.
Agriculturalists say the swarms have descended from Pakistan, bordering the state.
Locals said a similar invasion of locusts was witnessed in 1994.
Local media reports said authorities in Gujarat ignored an alert from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of a massive locust attack in South Asia covering Pakistan and India.
"Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in Jodhpur had noticed the swarms and predicted their trajectory across the international border. However, preventive measures by the authorities were not taken," local media reported.
Farmers said in the absence of any help from the government they hire laborers and using age-old techniques like beating drums and vessels to scare the locusts. However, it was not proving effective.
Locust, a large-sized insect, is a short-horned grasshopper of migratory habit, which attacks crops or green vegetation. It causes extensive damage due to its feeding behavior.