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October 10, 2020

UN body terms Pakistan’s fight against locust imitable


October 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Friday acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in culminating crop-eating pests that could cause multi billion dollars of losses to the agriculture economy.

FAO Representative in Pakistan Minà Dowlatchahi hailed the country for getting out of the tremendous challenge in a short time.

“We can learn from Pakistan's good practices in the fight against locusts,” Dowlatchahi, addressing a ceremony at the National Locust Control Centre.

Minister for Food Security Fakhar Imam said Pakistan has overcome the challenge of locusts.

“The provincial governments and the institutions stood up to the challenge,” said Imam. “Their coordinated efforts as well as the help of villagers helped in confronting the crop munching pests.”

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’s Empty Quarter bordering Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Pakistan was expected to lose multi billion dollars of crops during the summer season in case locusts destroy 75 percent of the standing crops.

FAO earlier said the locusts might have caused financial loss worth $3.7 billion in the agriculture sector that contributes 18.9 percent to GDP and absorbs 42.3 percent of the labour force.

Independent estimates said the loss would have been $2.9 billion if 25 percent of the crops were damaged, and the losses would have been around $5.8 billion in case of locust attack on half of the fields.

Locust swarms, in the recent past, affected large swaths of agricultural lands across the country, compelling the government to declare national emergency to respond in controlling the insects that destroy crops.

The UN agency said 38 percent of agriculture fields in Pakistan are breeding grounds for the insects. Out of which 60 percent locusts breed in Balochistan alone, followed by Sindh (25pc), and Punjab (15pc).

Food security minister said the efforts proved true that Pakistan has the capability to meet any challenge.

National Locust Control Centre Chief Coordinator Moazzam Ejaz said the challenge of locusts has been overcome.

“Pakistan has developed the capacity and capability to more effectively cope with the locusts in future,” he said. “All the institutions including the provincial governments and National Disaster Management Authority worked in close coordination to eradicate the crop munching pests.”