Huge swarms of locusts start playing havoc with crops in more Sindh areas

Updated May 02, 2020

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Swarms of locusts that have entered Sindh have started devouring crops in even more areas. — Manoj Gemani/File
Swarms of locusts that have entered Sindh have started devouring crops in even more areas. — Manoj Gemani/File

LARKANA: Swarms of locusts on Friday attacked Naudero and kutcha belt of Larkana district posing a serious threat to mango orchards and vegetable crops.

“The swarms have entered Sindh from Iran via Balochistan,” Siraj-ul-Oliya, Larkana district president of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, said while speaking to Dawn on Friday.

He said locusts in “millions” landed in this area and started devouring crops in Naudero, Paro Bhutto, Khuda Dino Bhutto, Nandha Aghani, Panjodero, Phulpota and other areas.

He apprehended that the pests would destroy mango orchards besides devastating onion, tomato, ladyfinger, coriander and other crops.

Locust swarms were noticed to have attacked green pastures, trees and crops in Ratodero on Monday. After causing enormous damage to fields there, they advanced to farmlands in Naudero and its surrounding areas, he said. Mr Oliya said the agriculturists and farmers in the affected areas of Ratodero were struggling hard to combat the locust invasion by sprinkling pesticides on their crops.

The locusts had ample breeding time and place in the kutcha area along the Indus embankments. As soon as the pests would attain flying age, they would start attacking crops available to them all around, said a prominent agriculturist.

The farming community in all affected areas were applying traditional methods to push away the swarms but their efforts appeared to be an exercise in futility considering the strength of the swarms.

Reports from Gaji Khuhawar, Lalurounk and Wagan areas in Qambar-Shahdadkot district also spoke of locust attacks on various crops.

A fight against the locust swarms could only be effective through aerial spray, said the SCA leader. He urged the Sindh government to arrange light aircraft and pesticide to bring the situation under control and avoid heavy losses to the farming community as well as the provincial economy.

SCA seeks PM’s intervention

HYDERABAD: Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) president Miran Mohammad Shah has sought intervention of Prime Minister Imran Khan in controlling locust attacks in Sindh as, according to him, “the crop protection department and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) have failed to take any action in this regard”.

The SCA said cotton crop and vegetables in Sindh would be destroyed in no time as seen last year, therefore the PM should initiate action to handle that alarming situation and make sure that everything be controlled before destruction of crops. “Your immediate action in this regard will be highly appreciated and remembered,” said the letter addressed to the PM and sent to him on Thursday.

Mr Shah said that locust problem had affected the agriculture sector of Sindh considerably and the SCA did not expect their attack in 2020 before time, but unfortunately due to “irresponsible behaviour” of the disaster management authority and plant protection department, swarms of locusts were wreaking havoc in the agricultural heart of Sindh, destroying the newly-cultivated (about 30 days old) cotton crop.

He said locust swarms entered Balochistan last year in March and spread to Sindh by June 2019. After summer breeding in Nara and Thar deserts of Sindh, locusts migrated to Indian Rajasthan desert in July and re-entered in Sindh in Oct 2019, partially destroying the crop of wheat, mustard and vegetables.

He said that an average swarm, which had up to 40 million insects, could travel up to 150km in a day to destroy enough food crop that otherwise could feed 34m people.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020