Federal, provincial govts must get ready to counter locusts: PM

Updated 11 Jul 2020

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting at the National Locust Control Centre on Friday.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting at the National Locust Control Centre on Friday.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday approved phase-II of the National Action Plan for Locust Control and directed the officials concerned of the federal and provincial governments to be prepared to encounter another expected attack of the insects in the country.

The prime minister took thedecision during a visit to the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC).

“A coordinated national response of the federal and provincial governments and organisations is required to cope with the expected locust swarms so that crop production is not affected,” the prime minister said during a briefing at the centre.

Mr Khan also decided that the affected farmers would be compensated through the second phase of the national action plan.

Approves plan to control insects, says affected farmers will be compensated

He appreciated timely and coordinated response by the federal and provincial governments and the Pakistan Army for effectively controlling locusts and using indigenously developed equipment. “Locust attacks, combined with the Covid-19 outbreak, is a huge challenge for Pakistan,” he added.

He said the government would make every possible effort to control locust swarms as it involved food security in the country.

Federal ministers Syed Fakhar Imam, Asad Umar, Shibli Faraz and Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Special Assistant to the PM (SAPM) on Information retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, SAPM Shahbaz Gill, the National Disaster Management Authority chairman and senior officers attended the briefing.

The chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the chief secretary of Balochistan participated in the briefing via video link.

The prime minister was informed about different aspects of the Natio­nal Action Plan for Locust Control’s phase-I which has been completed.

Engineer-in-chief Pakistan Army/national coordinator NLCC Lt Gen Moazzam Ijaz gave a detailed briefing on locust control measures in the affected areas of the country.

PM Khan was also briefed on coordinated efforts being made for monitoring, survey & control, inter-organisational coordination, resource allocation & mobilisation and awareness campaign for locust control at natio­nal, provincial and district levels.

The meeting was informed that due to the trans-boundary nature of locusts’ movement, close liaison with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the affected countries in the region was being maintained to take timely pre-emptive measures.

The prime minister appreciated the governments of China, Japan and the United Kingdom for providing technical and other assistance in controlling locusts.

It was informed that a movement of locusts is expected from the Horn of Africa via Iran and another from India for which necessary control measures are in place.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2020