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February 28, 2020

Army of 100,000 Chinese ducks ready to fight locust swarms

Business

February 28, 2020

BEIJING: Chinese duck platoons are waiting to be deployed in Pakistan to fight a swarm of crop-eating pests that threaten regional food security, Bloomberg said.

At least 100,000 ducks are expected to be sent to Pakistan as early as the second half of this year to combat a desert locust outbreak, according to Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The ducks are “biological weapons” and can be more effective than pesticide, said Lu, who is in charge of the project in tandem with a university in Pakistan.

“One duck is able to eat more than200 locusts a day,” Lu said in a telephone interview on Thursday, citing results of experiments to test the ducks’ searching and predation capabilities. A trial will start in China’s western region of Xinjiang later this year before the ducks are sent to Pakistan, Lu said.

Swarms of desert locusts have been spreading through countries from eastern Africa to South Asia, destroying crops and pastures at a voracious pace. The pest plague, together with unseasonal rain and a scourge of low quality seeds, has hit major crops in Pakistan’s largest producing regions, weighing on its already fragile economy. And it has also migrated into India.

It will be crucial for China, which shares a land border with Pakistan and India, to prevent an invasion. However, China does have some shield in the form of the Himalaya mountains that stand as a barrier between the Indian subcontinent and the Plateau of Tibet.