Locusts find new corridor


Locust is being dubbed as a bigger threat to Pakistan and other regional countries than Covid-19. The swarms have now found a new corridor to Pakistan from Afghanistan, thus wreaking havoc with crops first in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then Punjab. Given the speed with which young locusts are migrating from one place on another, it requires greater collaboration amongst regional countries to cope with the threat that poses a serious threat to food security.
Chairing a meeting of National Locust Control Centre, Minister for Food Security Fakhar Imam announced funds worth Rs 26 billion to fight crop-devouring pests. He said federal government will spend Rs 14 and provincial governments will contribute Rs 12 for this purpose. Indeed, the country cannot afford any apathy to this problem as Coronavirus has already inflicted a major blow to our economy and we are not in a position to import food products to feed our population. Thus our reliance is now totally on agriculture sector to support and feed our population. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has already estimated $2.5 billion worth of losses to winter crops and $ 2.8 billion to summer crops. Hence in this backdrop, maximum resources and energy should be devoted to rid the country of these swarms. No delay should be made in procurement of necessary equipment including aircraft and sprayers to eliminate these pests from our soil.
In fact the threat will further intensify until and unless all neighbouring countries come together on the matter. It is no time to entangle with each other but to unite against this common threat. The regional countries should share their expertise and logistics as well as coordinate their operations on borders to check locust infestations. Responsibility also rests with other countries and international financial institutions to extend financial assistance to South Asian countries to avert famine like situation. Their assistance is also important to support those farmers whose crops have been ravaged by the swarms.