$200mn Leafs project okayed for agri sector, locust threat

Updated 08 Aug 2020

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Project will focus on migratory, breeding and infestation routes of desert locust. — AFP/File
Project will focus on migratory, breeding and infestation routes of desert locust. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Friday approved Locust Emergency and Food Security Project (Leafs) to uplift the local agriculture sector and combat locust threat, said a press release issued by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

It said that the food ministry is responsible for overall project implementation with support of provincial governments, Department of Plant Protection (DPP), National Locust Control Centre, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The project cost is $200 million or Rs32.8 billion, it added.

The Leafs project will focus on migratory, breeding and infestation routes of desert locust in addition to building capacity of the DPP and compensate farmers on account of losses due to locusts across the country.

The project also includes livestock support programs to mitigate negative impacts of desert locust on livelihoods besides strengthening and establishing food security and nutrition information systems.

The specific project objectives include locust control, mitigating negative social and economic impact associated with locust attack and strengthening the national food security system.

The food ministry has an overall coordination role of the project implementation through establishing a Federal Project Steering Committee, responsible for approval of annual work plans, monitor and review of financial reporting, third-party validation and re-allocation of funds.

A project management Unit under direct supervision of food secretary with an independent National Project Direc­tor with support of needed staff has also been proposed.

The FAO, being a technical agency and having the role of global management of locust, will provide technical support and assistance to all partners including provincial governments and the DPP, strengthening of FSNIS and early warning systems, international and regional coordination, regional locust surveillance and procurement support.

Meanwhile, the DPP will manage the locust outbreak in the country. In that role, the department will make national locust surveillance and pest management plan, threat assessment, monitoring of locust population, breeding and swarms, strategic coordination and control operations based on locust cycle (desert, cropping areas, cities).

Correction: An earlier version of the headline quoted $200bn as the cost of the Locust Emergency and Food Security project. The cost is $200mn and the headline has been amended to reflect it. The error is regretted.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2020