Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday vowed that the government will undertake every possible effort for locust control since the country’s food security is at stake.
While speaking at a briefing on National Action Plan for Locust Control at National Locust Control Centre in Islamabad, the premier accorded in-principle approval for Phase-II of the National Action Plan for Locust Control. It was also decided that the affected farmers would be compensated through the package.
The prime minister highly appreciated the timely and coordinated response of federal and provincial governments, including the Pakistan Army, for effectively controlling locust attacks and the use of indigenously developed equipment in this regard.
Emphasising that a coordinated national response of federal and provincial governments and organisations is required to cope with another expected locust swarm so that crop production is not affected, the prime minister said that the locust attack combined with the COVID-19 outbreak was a huge challenge for Pakistan.
During the meeting, the prime minister was also informed that the National Action Plan for Locust Control Phase-I has been completed.
Next few weeks crucial
According to a news report published on Dawn.com, officials have warned that the coming few weeks could be crucial in the fight against the desert locust infestation with major swarms expected to be reaching here later this month from the Horn of Africa.
While briefing the diplomatic corps at the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) earlier on Thursday, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal said the locust problem is likely to peak in the next three to four weeks. “The next eight weeks between July 15 and September 15 would be critical because of the monsoon and the government’s ongoing commitment with anti-COVID-19 measures.”
‘July will bring with it a new threat’
Last month, Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam had said that July will bring with it a new threat of locust swarms, with more of the pests entering Pakistan from Africa, Iran, Oman, Afghanistan, and India.
He had said locusts have now taken a new route to enter Dera Ismail Khan and Waziristan through Afghanistan.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister had said that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has ordered 11 planes to carry out anti-locust spraying, whereas five helicopters of Pakistan Army are also being used in this regard.
“The locust attacks have affected various parts of the country and an anti-locust attack survey should be conducted to tackle the problem,” he added.
He had said that the ministry is also recruiting 100 entomologists in order to find effective and practical solutions to the locust problem.
Imam had said that China has played an integral role in assisting Pakistan to combat the locust attacks and that the ministry is also in touch with other international organisations.
“[In this regard] the UK and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has provided 20-micron sprays to combat locusts,” the minister had said.