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Declaring emergency against locust

Declaring emergency against locust

LOCUST onslaught in Sindh, Punjab and now in Khyber Pakhtuknhwa has once again exposed how ill prepared and ill equipped our authorities are to deal with such an emergency like situation.
The locust swarms invaded Pakistan last June and since then they have inflicted a serious damage on a large scale to crops including wheat, cotton and vegetables. This is being described as worst infestation in the country since 1990s and this indeed warranted an aggressive approach to contain the attack. Finally realising severity of the situation, government has declared a national emergency to eliminate locust swarms. A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also approved a national action plan that requires a sum of Rs 7.3 billion to overcome the crisis. As it is a matter of national food security, no compromise should be made on implementation of this plan of action in letter and in spirit. For this federal and provincial governments will have to contribute their share as any delay could have disastrous consequences for the agriculture sector and well-being of farmers who are already faced with innumerable hardships due to vegetation eating locust swarms. A good number of aircraft and other machinery should immediately be acquired in order to carry out the spraying of pesticides in under attack areas. Local communities should be mobilised for scouting because their cooperation is of significant importance in order to combat this menace.
These locust swarms have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances and if good rains falls and ecological conditions become favourable, rapidly reproduce and increase twenty fold in three months time. So authorities need to remain on alert and continuously monitor situation to detect and control the infestations. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) must be equipped with all necessary tools and machinery to cope with all kinds of calamities be it floods, earthquake or challenge posed by locust. Federal and provincial governments should announce compensation package for farmers whose crops have been damaged by locust attack. Supporting farmers at this juncture, especially small ones, will take forward our agriculture sector.


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