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February 28, 2020

China commits spraying vehicles, drones to combat locust

Business

February 28, 2020

KARACHI: China on Thursday vowed to provide spraying vehicles and drones to help Pakistan combat locust swarms that have so far affected large swath of lands in the agriculture country.

A Chinese delegation, during a visit, said its government would provide 50 vehicles to disinfect 16,000 hectares per day and 50 units of drones for spray and monitoring of 1,333 hectares of land per hour, while aircraft would also be provided once package is finalised.

The Chinese delegation, along with Consul General Li Bijan, said this during a press conference. Bijan said the government of China has sent team of its agriculture experts, on a request of the Pakistani government, to help the country fight with the crisis of locusts. “Both are fighting battles,” he said. The Chinese team that arrived this week held meetings with the government departments along with visiting Tharparkar desert in Sindh, which is the most-affected region.

The team was scheduled to visit Balochistan on Thursday, and then it would visit Lahore. Head of the Chinese delegation Wang Fengle said the experts visited the desert area to formulate emergency response to control locust. They discussed sustainable system and mechanism to combat locust.

Fengle said the experts would closely work with the Department of Plant Protection and Pakistani scientists to prevent and control locust. “We suggest the government of Pakistan to formulate timely plan to control locust,” he said.

On total value of the package, Fengle said it is too premature to disclose the value, which he added would be shared once the nationwide survey is complete. The delegation said locusts have already affected around 30 million hectares of land in the country; of which, 0.9 million hectares have been surveyed and 0.3 million hectares controlled.

The delegation advised the government to increase surveys. Locust is very much sensitive to temperature and rainfalls. It can affect wheat and maize crops in addition to eat into leaves of citrus fruits. It said locust could provide severe damage to crops and could be a threat to food security of the country.

Bijan said two novel coronavirus cases were confirmed in Pakistan. The virus is a threat to the whole world. “We are trying hard to fight this epidemic,” he added. “Scientists are working hard to come up with vaccine. However, it is curable and controllable virus.”

Since the outbreak, Bijan said, governments of China and Pakistan are cooperating with each other. He assured Pakistan of Chinese government’s assistance in this crisis. “Our problem is your problem and your problem is our problem,” he said. “We are also ready to provide necessary assistance to Pakistan.”