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Horticulture At Risk From Locust Attack: Motilal Oswal

Vegetables constitute 59 per cent of the production. About 31 per cent of the horticulture production comes from fruits.

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If the attack from swarms of locusts is not curtailed, horticulture production in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra will be impacted, according to a sector report by Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

These states cumulatively contribute 38 per cent to India's 312 million tonnes of horticulture production. 

Vegetables constitute 59 per cent of the production. About 31 per cent of the horticulture production comes from fruits. Summer fruits in India include mango, watermelon, orange, muskmelon, sweet lime, jackfruit, black plum, lychee, pineapple, figs and ice apple.

"If the locust attack is not curtailed, horticulture production at these states will be impacted. Generally, January to March is the period for the sowing of sugarcane. Any locust attack may impact sugarcane crop in Uttar Pradesh which constitutes 45 per cent to the normal sugarcane sowing area of India," said the report.

The report said rabi harvest starts in April and ends in May. Thus, farmers currently do not have major standing crops on the field at risk of attack. However, horticulture (fruits and vegetables) crops are at risk of a washout in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

"The impact of the locust attack is currently minimal given that the rabi harvest is already complete (impact expected on horticulture produce). However, if the attack is not curtailed, it will pose a risk to kharif production, in turn impacting farm profitability," it said.

Coromandel International and UPL in our coverage universe are likely to benefit from pesticide sales for controlling the locusts.

However, an uncontrolled attack will affect kharif profitability, thereby reducing the use of pesticides and fertilisers. This may weigh on the performances of agrochemical companies.

Pesticides mainly used to control locusts are chlorphyrifos (Sumitomo Chemicals, Gharda, UPL, Coromandel, Insecticides India and Bharat Rasayan), melathion (Rallis, Coromandel and Sumitomo), and deltamethrin (Bayer Crop, Insecticides India and Meghmani).

Currently, said the report, the country has deployed 89 fire brigades with pesticide spray, 120 survey vehicles, 47 control vehicles with spray equipment and 810 tractors mounted with sprayers for effective locust control as per the requirement on different days.

On May 28, the government said 15 sprayers will arrive from Britain over the next 15 days. Besides this, 45 more sprayers will be procured over one-and-a-half months. Drones will be used to spray pesticides on tall trees and inaccessible places for the effective control of locusts.

Moreover, plans are afoot to deploy helicopters with aerial spray. An adequate stock of pesticides is being maintained (53,000 litres malathion) with locust-control organisations. 


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