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Thursday May 28 2020

Locust attacks continue to ravage crops in parts of Pakistan

Locust attacks on crops in Sindh, Punjab have increased in the past couple of days. Photo: file

Swarms of locusts continued to wreak havoc on food crops across Pakistan, with the attacks gaining frequency in several districts of Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan.

Locusts attacked crops in Multan, Muzzaffargarh, Vehari, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur in Punjab and Sanghar, Matiari, and Ghotki in Sindh.

The attacks added to the misery of farmers, who tried to beat drums in order to scare away the attacking insects.

The swarms have been devouring mango, cotton, and sugarcane crops, causing severe damage to the agricultural sector.

Locusts invaded shops and bazaars as well, which led to citizens panicking and spraying in hopes of dispersing the insects leading the onslaught.

Related: Bilawal slams PM Imran, cabinet for failing to take steps against locust attacks

In Rajanpur, locusts caused significant damage to green trees and plants. In Sadiqabad, the insects attacked mango farms, severely damaging the production of the fruit.

The district administration in Rahim Yar Khan also resorted to sprays to get rid of locusts attacking the crops.

NDMA hotline

In a bid to facilitate complaints related to locusts, National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) has activated a hotline 051-111-222-999 for registering and resolving issues pertaining to their attacks.

"The aggrieved farmers can register their complaints about the existence of locusts in their respective areas or need of spray on the hotline for 24 hours," the NDMA spokesperson said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, in a recent media briefing, shared details of the steps taken to fight the locust attacks.

The NDMA chief had said that a massive operation is underway in Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Faisalabad divisions, along with Okara, Bhakar, and Layyah districts.

“We have enough stock of pesticides in Pakistan to keep the locust attacks in check,” Afzal had said.

Also read: Thar residents relish in locust biryani, curry dishes

'Failure of federal govt'

A day earlier, Bilawal Bhutto said that the federal government has failed to take adequate and required steps to check the imminent attack of locust swarms in Sindh and other provinces as clouds of locusts have landed in different parts of the country and are destroying crops.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the PPP chairman said he had repeatedly warned the federal government of the threat of locust attacks to the economy but the Centre took no measures, after which the country’s agriculture had come under the severe locust onslaught, which might cause a dangerous blow to the national economy that had already been reeling due to the coronavirus emergency.