SUKKUR: An alarming situation emerged in several districts including Sukkur, Kandhkot-Kashmore, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Dadu after swarms of locusts attacked standing crops, green patches and trees on Thursday and posed an imminent threat to farmland in other districts.

After causing considerable damage to the agricultural fields in Shikarpur earlier this week, breakaway swarms of locusts penetrated Jacobabad and parts of Sukkur district where they devoured standing wheat, vegetable and other crops on Thursday.

Growers and other residents of Jacobabad city said they noticed huge swarms clouding over farmland on the outskirts and smaller swarms passing through the city as well.

The affected rural areas included Abad, Bypass, Noor Wah and Dashti, they said.

Considering the strength of the newly arriving swarms, growers in the district apprehended a huge loss to be caused by the pests if immediate action was not taken to eliminate them.

They said fodder and grass was stored after cultivating thousands of acres of land and these stocks were lifeline of cattle heads which was being ravaged by locusts. They feared that the peasants rearing animals as their livelihood were also extremely worried over the situation.

Major agriculturists and farmers of small landholdings Mir Ghulam Sabir Khoso and Mohammad Ali Brohi appeared before the media on Thursday to reveal that the swarms had already devoured “tonnes” of grain and

devastated standing crops, plants and trees. “We fear they would not spare any fodder stocked by us for our animals,” they complained.

Growers in Kandhkot also approached media personnel to draw their attention to the locusts’ attacks on agricultural field in Tangwani, Risaldar and other areas of Kandhkot-Kashmore district.

They claimed that the Sindh government appeared least interested in taking urgent measures to avoid such an enormous financial loss to growers although it would ultimately undermine the provincial economy.

They appealed to Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the authorities concerned to take immediate steps for the elimination of locusts in order to save remaining farmlands and agricultural produce.

They said this appeared to be the third attack by locusts’ swarms within the last six months. They said they had already suffered huge losses in the previous attacks and were facing a similar situation once again.

They appealed to the federal and Sindh governments to act before it was too late.

DADU: Big and small landowners in Dadu district also reported locusts’ attack on fruit and vegetable as well as other crops and green leaves of trees and plants across the Kachho belt and its surrounding fields called kutcho and pakko areas on Thursday.

Growers of mango and other fruits said the locusts swarm attacked this region at the present peak season which would economically devastate thousands of farmers and landowners, besides other stakeholders of the agriculture sector.

Additional director of agriculture at Dadu Ali Nawaz Kalhoro acknowledged that “millions” of locusts formed the swarms that attacked parts of this district.

He, however, maintained that the swarms would leave the district within three to four days to advance towards Tharparkar.

He said the swarms had arrived here from Iran via Balochistan.

He noted that the swarms flew into the district some three days back and had already damaged mango and other crops in different parts of the district.

He advised growers to go for traditional methods to deal with the situation.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2020