PPP wants action plan to avert famine threat

Updated May 29 2020

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MULTAN: Swarms of locust attack crops in a nearby village on Thursday. The government says a major operation is under way to eliminate the menace in central and south Punjab districts, and affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, frequent heavy rains on the Arabian Peninsula due to climate change since 2018 have created a perfect breeding environment for locusts. Some moved into Pakistan and India via Yemen.—APP
MULTAN: Swarms of locust attack crops in a nearby village on Thursday. The government says a major operation is under way to eliminate the menace in central and south Punjab districts, and affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, frequent heavy rains on the Arabian Peninsula due to climate change since 2018 have created a perfect breeding environment for locusts. Some moved into Pakistan and India via Yemen.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has called upon the government to come up with an action plan to effectively check the threat of famine in the country posed by locusts.

“Farmers across Pakistan are suffering the worst plague of locusts in recent history which will cause a loss of Rs600 billion to Pakistani economy,” PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said on Thursday.

Talking to a select group of reporters, she noted that this would be economically devastating for the country as agriculture accounts for 20pc of the country’s GDP and 65pc of the population live and work in its agricultural areas.

“The fact that the locust plague in Pakistan may wipe out livelihoods and worsen food security, should be enough to wake the federal government from its deep slumber to help the farmers,” Senator Rehman said.

She said around 38pc of Pakistan was now a breeding ground for the desert locusts and more than 140,000 acres of crops had been damaged in Pakistan alone since last April. “Considering these grim reports, it is surprising that the Federal government has not come up with an effective policy to tackle this issue,” she added.

Ms Rehman said Sindh was the most vulnerable to this new locust invasion and there was a fear of a potential loss of Rs451 billion, which was approximately 70pc of Sindh’s budget. She regretted that the federal government had still not launched a spraying drive in Sindh and nor has PM Khan taken any action despite the CM Sindh’s request.

The Sindh government had been reporting these issues to the federal government for a year but as always there was no response from it, Ms Rehman said.

She said: “As this issue comes under the domain of the Federal Ministry of National Food Security, particularly the department of plant protection, provinces require federal government’s assistance in addressing this issue. Instead, the federal government was falsely claiming that the situation had been handled and they have done aerial sprays but the Sindh Agriculture Minister has proved that in the last 6 months, no area in Sindh has been sprayed.”

“Since it is the federal government’s responsibility, CM Sindh had asked for the provision of 6 aircraft, ultra-low volume (ULV) sprayers, pesticides and lambda cyhalothrin emulsified concentrate in sufficient quantities, besides human resources in the form of field teams,” she said, adding that what they got was just an old aircraft and a pilot which had been deployed for combatting locusts in Sindh and Balochistan. “We are still waiting for the federal government to provide 5 more aircrafts and pesticides for locust control in the province before the harvest of Kharif crops,” said the Senator.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020