Monday Aug 10, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The National Locust Attack Centre said on Monday that the threat of a locust attack still persists from India and Africa, as Pakistan recently grappled to deal with swarms of locusts damaging food crops amid the pandemic.
The NLCC provided a recent update on the locust attack today, where it said that due to Pakistan Army and the government's timely actions, the threat from the pests have lessened in intensity.
The centre said that the danger of strong locust attacks has reduced from 61 districts across the country to just two districts.
Within 24 hours, more than 262,000 hectares of land were surveyed, it said.
The centre said that 2,791 hectares of land were sprayed and the pest was exterminated.
In the six months, 115,400 hectares of land was cleansed of locusts through vigorous spraying, said the centre.
In June, the government had announced it was allocating funds amounting to Rs26 billion to fight the locust outbreak in the country.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam said desert locust situation in Pakistan has found a new corridor and were now entering Pakistan from Afghanistan to Dera Ismail Khan and Waziristan.
“The federal government will spend Rs14 billion and provincial governments will contribute Rs12 billion to counter the locust,” Imam said while addressing the 5th meeting of the National Locust Control Centre.
The locust plague has affected 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.
About 8,000 army troops were deployed for the anti-locust operation, it was reported back then. China had also extended financial help of $4.9 million to Pakistan by giving it 53,000 litres of spray, sprayers and drones, the minister had said. Twenty aircraft were used for the anti-locusts operation.
Crop losses have been reported in several areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Dera Ismail Khan district, from where these locust swarms were entering Punjab.