AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
'"Locusts [Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol XII. Khandesh P. 182. ] have sometimes visited the district, but never in sufficient numbers to do much harm. In 1869, a large cloud crossed the district from north to south, but in 1873 and 1878 they did much injury to the late crops. The Khandesh cultivator thinks locusts a visitation from God not to be opposed. Except prayers and the gift of a rupee placed on the ground in the direction of their flight, nothing is done to stop them or drive them off. Parrots and birds do much harm to the grain crops, and maize and sugarcane fields suffer at night from the attacks of jackals and pigs. Rats, as in 1847-48 and 1878-79, also sometimes cause much havoc. Birds are scared away by watchmen, and a good close fence is the usual protection against jackals and pigs, but no practical remedy for rats has yet been discovered."
The ravages of locusts[Based on the information supplied by the Collector of Dhulia.] caused damage to kharif
season of 1901-02. They again appeared during the year 1902-03 but did little
harm. They were reported in September and October 1903 and did some damage to
standing crops. In November they left Khandesh. Organised efforts for their
destruction were begun in March 1904. Three Assistant Collectors were placed on
special duty under the Director, Land Records and Agriculture and were guided by
Special Assistant, Agricultural Department. The Entomologist to the Government
of India, identified these locusts as acridium succintium. Investigations into
their life history were conducted and much valuable information was recorded for
the first time. In the beginning of April 1904, locusts were reported from
Sholapur and the inland talukas of Poona and Belgaum and later the swarms
increased considerably and extended over all the district, except those in
Gujarat. In the middle of the same month government directed energetic action to
be taken in all districts, where locusts were present, to destroy them before
eggs were laid. Various meetings of officials and villagers were held by the
Assistant Collectors at their camps and the life history of the locusts and
methods of their destruction were explained. Locusts had entered Surat and
rapidly passed on into Khandesh where they entered about the third week of April
through Nandurbar. By April 30th Khandesh was generally infested. After the
rains broke, the locusts laid eggs in enormous numbers in the Konkan along the
whole line of the Sahyadri and in Khandesh. Hoppers appeared towards the end of
July. They were chiefly confined to the forest regions where cultivation was scanty. They lived in grass lands and attacked the coarse millets and rice of the forest tribes. The aborigines readily took part in measures for the destruction of locusts and, from the rewards granted by government for this work received compensation for the loss of their crops. These rewards amounted to a total of some two lakhs of rupees and were paid in some cases by daily wages, in others by the weight of locusts or eggs destroyed. In March and April the number of locusts had largely diminished. They were reported to have visited Khandesh and to have damaged sugarcane and garden crops. Hoppers in the season of 1904-05 were very rare and were confined to parts of Khandesh and Ratnagiri. In 1905-06 locusts appeared in several districts but in each case caused little damage. In September 1905 hoppers did slight damage in Ratnagiri and Khandesh.
In October locusts appeared in four talukas of West Khandesh. In June 1906 small swarms were seen in Bijapur, Sholapur and Khandesh but caused no damage except in Bijapur where it was considerable. The year 1907-08 was fortunate in an almost entire freedom from the scourge of locusts. They did make their appearance in isolated parts of Dhulia, Sindkheda, and Shirpur in the West Khandesh district but caused no noticeable damage. In the succeeding year only the Nandurbar taluka in West Khandesh district was visited by the locusts and no appreciable damage was sustained. It was not until 1912-13 that locusts reappeared in the district.
In 1942-43, a slight damage was caused to rabi crops of wheat in Sindkheda taluka. The grass hopper trouble covered an area of about 2,000 acres in ten villages of Sakri taluka and Rs. 500 were granted to carry out control measures in the affected area of the taluka.
Rats in 1847-48, 1878-79, and in 1901-02 caused much havoc. The rat plague of 1878-79 caused considerable damage to crops like wheat. cotton, and other garden crops. Rats appeared again in 1901.02 and attacked crops. Rewards at the rate of Re. one per 100 rats
killed were granted. Difficulty in killing the rats was also experienced as they appeared just after the rains and consequently were able to escape in the grass. Large numbers, however were killed. Many were killed in on moonlight nights in the open with sticks or nets placed on the ground. Where water was plentiful rats were turned out by water being poured down the holes.
Two remedies, viz., arsenic and squill poisonous mixtures were also tried by the Collector. The arsenic mixture at first killed a certain number of rats, but they soon learnt to avoid it. The squill mixture was totally useless. No further records are available to suggest the incidence of rat plagues after these years in the district.