QUETTA: Locusts have damaged standing crops in 31 districts of Balochistan since March.
According to officials of the provincial agriculture department, crops standing over thousands of acres in Nushki, Kharan, Washuk, Panjgur, Kech, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Mastung, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Dera Bugti, Sibi and several other areas have been destroyed by the locusts.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had warned that massive swarms of locust will enter Pakistan via Balochistan from Oman and Iran in a few days.
A senior officer of the agriculture department said that anti-locust spray had been carried out throughout the province with the support of NDMA to lessen the damage.
“Locust attacks have damaged standing crops on more than 9,269 hectares causing a loss of Rs1,492 million so far,” he said, adding that the agriculture department had distributed knapsack, spray pumps and pesticides worth Rs3.93m.
UN organisation warns of a possible loss of Rs451bn to Pakistan
Local farmers believe that the pace of anti-locust spray is very slow, while they are cooperating with the agriculture department.
“It is a disaster and it cannot be countered with a couple of old vehicles and poor spray techniques being adopted by the provincial government,” said Shahbaz Khan, a farmer based in Nushki.
He said a few officials of the agriculture department had been tasked to carry out sprays with the help of only two vehicles.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned of a possible loss of Rs393 billion to Pakistan due to locust attacks and said it might increase to Rs451bn in summer. It has also warned that following the locust attacks serious food insecurity might take place.
An official of the agriculture department said his department lacked proper equipment and resources to take effective measures to curb locust attacks.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020