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August 15, 2020

Govt completes locust control operation over 1.1 million hectares

Business

August 15, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government has controlled locust outbreak over 1.1 million hectares of land across the country, official data showed on Friday, as major swarms from Horn of Africa are expected soon.

National Locusts Control Centre (NLCC) data showed that control operation has been carried out on 1,108,990 hectares of land in the last six months.

The joint teams of the ministry of national food security and research, provincial agriculture departments and the Pakistan Army were conducting a comprehensive survey and control operation against the locusts in affected districts. Anti-locust survey and control operations were in progress.

The country, being a locust migratory route, has breeding grounds for both summer and spring grasshoppers. It came under attack in June last year following the start of climate change-induced international locust crisis in 2018 from the southern Arabian peninsula bordering Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Pakistan might lose multibillion dollars agricultural crops during the summer season in case locusts destroy 75 percent of the standing crops,

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said Pakistan’s 38 percent of agriculture fields are breeding grounds for the insects. Out of which 60 percent locusts breed in Balochistan alone, followed by Sindh (25pc), and Punjab (15pc). The UN agency said the locusts may have caused financial loss worth $3.72 billion in the agriculture sector that contributes 18.9 percent to. GDP and absorbs 42.3 percent of labour force.

During the last 24 hours, about 245,880 hectares area have been surveyed and control operation carried out on 100 hectares of district Lasbella of Balochistan and 620 hectares of district Tharparkar of Sindh.

Moreover, aerial control operation with the help of Beaver Aircraft has been carried out over 400 hectares in Islamkot of district Tharparkar, according to NLCC. The government on Saturday announced Rs26 billion worth of funds to fight locust outbreak that threatens food security.

The locust plague, believed to prove worse than Covid-19, adversely inflicted farmers across the country and is feared to create food shortages. Pakistan declared a national emergency after the first swarm invaded the country from the UAE in mid-2019. Another wave is expected to soon arrive from Iran. The threat coincides with the coronavirus crisis that already crippled the economy and growth prospects. Economic growth is expected to contract 0.4 percent this fiscal year.