PAKISTAN’s agriculture sector is in grave danger as locust swarms have invaded the country and wreaked havoc on rural communities and farmers’ livelihoods.
Agriculturists and economists have given early warning of locust infestations but the governments did not take measures to deal with the threat. There is still time to deal with the menace. I have some suggestions for the federal government which it should adopt in coordination with the provincial governments to deal with the situation.
The shortage of technical staff in the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) should be addressed on an immediate basis.
A joint locust fund should be created to finance operations. Half of this fund should be raised by the federal government and the other half by the provincial governments. The federal government should adopt a joint working strategy and plan with each province.
All stranded planes of the DPP must be repaired immediately to be put to use in anti-locust spray work. More planes must be purchased for widespread spraying.
The foreign funding and guidance for local technical staff in anti-locust campaign should be sagaciously managed. The FAO and other such international agencies’
Expertise should be sought in the anti-locusts campaign. Guidance should also be sought from Chinese technical experts in this respect.
Islamabad should shortlist more resources and new biological and other control methods to eliminate locusts.
The federal government should immediatelyappoint a locust technical adviser from the international market to deal with locust management.
Meher Azeem Hakro
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2020