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January 29, 2020

Govt urged to declare locust emergency

Business

January 29, 2020

KARACHI: Sindh agriculture minister on Tuesday called on the federal government to declare emergency in the three affected provinces to combat locust swarms that have put the country’s food security at stake.

“If the federal government had taken the issue seriously, locusts would not have spread in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan,” said Ismail Rahoo, Sindh Minister for Agriculture, addressing a press conference at Sindh Assembly.

The minister urged the federal government to spray pesticide on the vermin with support of the neighbouring country. “Otherwise, it will re-enter in Pakistan that would be a disastrous,” Rahoo said.

He said the Sindh and federal government had chalked out three-phase strategy to get rid of locust swarms. “First phase is spread from January to June, second phase June to December, while third phase starts from January 2021 and ends in June 2021.

The provincial minister informed the media that American-made small airplanes were involved in spraying pesticide on locust swarms in 35 countries.

He said the locusts were alive in several districts of Sindh and they (Sindh government) were once again appealing to the federal government for help. Locusts have been reported to be active in India, UAE, Iran, and Afghanistan, while they have harmed crops in 15 districts of Sindh.

Rahoo said they had a meeting with the federal government officials last week, who praised measures taken by Sindh to combat locust swarms and suggested other provinces to follow Sindh government’s suit.

Sindh government had planned to either rent or purchase spray airplanes from China, the minister said adding that Sindh had so far sprayed 50,000 litres of pesticides.

Rahoo warned that with the start of the warm weather, locusts would rise again and would reenter Pakistan from neighbouring countries to affect the crops. Locust swarms can travel up to 150 kilometres in a day. They have affected 15 districts of Sindh.

Locusts entered Sindh from Balochistan coming from Yemen. Swarms that were found in the desert of Khairpur district in May have spread to more than 15 districts of Sindh including Ghotki, Sukkur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushehro Feroze, Jamshoro, Tharparkar, Dadu, Umerkot, and Mirpurkhas.

In May 2019, Sindh government had reported locust attack to the Director General, Federal Plant Protection Department to initiate the operation against the attack.

It is the primary responsibility of the Federal Plant Protection Department to conduct spray operation in desert areas to stop the locusts from spreading. The federal government’s planes were busy spraying pesticides in desert areas of Sindh, while the provincial government was spraying in cultivated areas using spray-machine-mounted vehicles.