Friday January 27, 2023

India seeks Pakistan, Iran cooperation in fighting locust

May 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Yet in another allegation, India has stated that adult groups of desert locusts are migrating to India from breeding areas in Balochistan as well as in Punjab province of Pakistan while more adult groups and small swarms have arrived from Pakistan in the past weeks and moved east into Rajasthan, reaching Jodhpur, they said.

It has been said in New Delhi on Friday that India has issued a brief request to Pakistan for cooperation. India has taken up the matter with Pakistan as well as Iran, another country affected by the locust attack, and offered pesticide support to both countries, Indian sources said.

“This year, in addition to the Covid pandemic, a new challenge is facing the people of the South Asia and South West Asia region is that of Desert Locust …” said an official.

“India has suggested to Pakistan that both countries coordinate locust control operation along the border and that India can facilitate supply of pesticide Malathion to Pakistan,” the official added.

With Pakistan, there is an existing institutionalised mechanism for such cooperation, including regular border meetings between the locust’s officers of the two countries, the official said. Additionally, the official added, India plans to establish a ‘Locust Warning Organisation’ between the two countries. New Delhi has offered Iran to supply pesticide for ‘desert locust’ control operations in Sistan-Baluchistan and South Khorasan provinces. These efforts, the official said, will contribute to mitigating the effect of the desert locust not only in these countries, but also for India.

Iran has already responded positively to the Indian offer. A vast population around the world – in Africa and Asia – has been dealing with an onslaught of desert locusts that threatens to raze vast swathes of crops. The current plague has been attributed to a series of cyclones in the Indian Ocean that hit a sandy area in the Arabian Peninsula, which provided hospitable breeding conditions for locusts. The desert locust is one of 12 species of short-horned grasshoppers. Swarms can comprise billions and travel up to 130 km in a day.

“A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, that is about two grams every day. A 1 km2 size swarm contains about 40 million locusts, which eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people. This is based on a person eating an average of 2.3 kg of food per day, according to the USDA (US Department of Agriculture),” the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation. In short, they can eat a lot — in a day, a swarm of the size of Paris can eat the same amount of food as half of France. A locust infestation can thus devour crops and threaten livelihood and sustenance in poorer nations.

The sources in Islamabad said that Pakistan will study the offer made by India. The proposal will be studied on various echelons before articulation of Pakistan’s position in this regard. The sources reminded that Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate locust will benefit all neighbouring countries as it has already unleashed campaign for its eradication.