Locust breeding has started in Nara, Tharparkar and Cholistan: FAO

Published July 18, 2020
Minister Fakhar Imam says 11 planes will arrive this month to carry out spray. — Dawn/File
Minister Fakhar Imam says 11 planes will arrive this month to carry out spray. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The summer breeding of desert locust swarms has commenced in areas of Tharparkar, Nara and Cholistan deserts where hatching and band formation will increase later this month, according to an update issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

New reports about locust swarms in northern Somalia suggest that migration from Somalia across the Indian Ocean to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border could be imminent.

More swarms are likely to form in Somalia in coming weeks. India and Pakistan have been warned accordingly by the FAO and both countries continue to take precautionary and preventive measures.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam presided over a meeting at the National Locust Control Centre on Friday. The meeting was informed that NLCC had developed ‘rate integration map’ which is being shared with all provinces on a daily basis.

Mr Imam said that there was a dire need to generate large-scale provincial maps to include tehsil-level forecast of locust migration.

Imam says 11 planes will arrive this month to carry out spray

An official of the ministry of foreign affairs, attending the meeting, said that Saudi Arabia and Kenya had expressed interest in bilateral exchange of information on locusts.

Meanwhile, Mr Imam told Voice of America (VOA) that 11 aircraft would arrive in the country later this month for carrying out aerial spray in locust-affected areas. Currently, aerial operation was being carried out by three aircraft of the Department of Plant Protection and five helicopters provided by the Pakistan Army.

He said that crops had been damaged at a limited scale by locust attacks. The government is carrying out a survey to assess the losses to crops.

Mr Imam said that the meteorological department had forecast above-average rainfall during the monsoon season this year, and it is feared that Kharif crops would be affected due to massive rainfall.

Officials of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government informed the meeting that no locust activity had been observed in the province. During the past 24 hours, 171,911 acres of land had been surveyed.

Officials of the Balochistan government said that the provincial government had taken all possible measures to eliminate the scourge of locusts. During the past 24 hours, 22 districts had been found to be hit by locusts and the government was carrying out operation against them in 222 acres of agricultural land.

The Punjab government informed the meeting that survey on 260,516 acres of land had been completed and no locust activity had been seen during the past 24 hours. The meeting was informed that teams had been working in Cholistan in addition to Pak Pattan and Lodhran.

The Sindh government representative told the meeting that in the last 24 hours, survey had been carried out on 94,807 acres while teams were working in Tharparkar and Nara deserts.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2020

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