Centre mulls wheat imports as crop-eating locusts multiply

Updated 06 Jun 2020


Food minister emphasises the need to control locust breeding in Balochistan. — AFP/File
Food minister emphasises the need to control locust breeding in Balochistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Despite availability of ample stocks in the country, the government is planning to import wheat to offset the possible impact of desert locusts on the major crop to stabilise local markets and discourage hoarding.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam shared the government’s plan to import wheat in a meeting of the Wheat Review Committee on Friday.

Pakistan’s estimated wheat production is 25.457 million tonnes including 19.402m in Punjab, 3.852m in Sindh, 1.22m metric in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 0.983m in Balochistan. With the addition of carry forward stock of 0.605m tonnes, the total availability of wheat is 26.062m tonnes, the committee was informed.

Informing the Food Minister Imam, the committee members said the government has procured 6.519m tonnes of wheat, 38 per cent higher than the 4.034m tonnes procured last year. Public sector has already achieved 79.03pc procurement target of 8.25m tonnes.

Meanwhile, Fakhr Imam visited the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) and chaired a meeting to review the ongoing operation in the locust-affected districts of the country.

At the NLCC meeting, he said the government will allocate Rs20 billion for locust control measures in the Annual Development Programme for 2020-21. He said the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has also issued a crisis appeal for $372 million to help contain the locust swarms.

An FAO official also briefed the committee on the global threat of desert locusts. He emphasised the need to control locust breeding in Balochistan and said that survey and control measures are the only solution to contain the spread of locusts.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020