Secretary General (Federal) Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI’s) Businessmen Panel, Ahmad Jawad has said 60% of our population is already facing food insecurity and if locust crisis is not controlled in time, the results will be devastating.
In a statement here on Friday, he said currently more than 60 districts of the country were affected from locust attack which is shocking indicators. ‘Maize, Mong, Mangoes, Cotton and Sugar cane crop are the most affected one from this disease.
Jawad said that these insects, mainly originating from deserts, eat anything from bark to seeds and flowers while traveling up to a speed of 93.2 miles (149 kilometers) a day. The region saw the first wave of the locust invasion in May last year since 1993. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Pakistan’s 38% of agriculture fields are breeding grounds for the insects, he added.
The SG FPCCI’s BMP said that out of which 60% locusts breed in Balochistan alone – the country’s poorest province, followed by southern Sindh, 25%, and northeastern Punjab – the most populous province, 15%. In remote parts of Punjab, and Balochistan, farmers beat drums to keep the insect away. In other parts, they use smoke to cut the oxygen supply to insects due to late support from the government.
Jawad said, ‘Locust invasion is a major threat than the coronavirus. The virus would not attack if you stay home or follow safety guidelines, but hunger will kill you in any way.’ He lamented if Department of Plant Protection (DPP) was much capable then it would control the locust in last year at the time of producing locust eggs. But we have seen with the passage of time the capacity of DPP was deteriorated and even Government don’t provide latest machinery time to time which was a major setback.
Now task have been given to NDMA to deal with locust, still very little measures have been taken, yet we have a less aircrafts for sprays and substandard pesticides. He also urged Agriculture Pest Warning & Quality Control of Pesticide Department should be given new SOP’s by the government after the detailed consultation so that they may monitor the quality of pesticides vigilantly for future.
Jawad said that the Ministry of National Food Security should also ensure the import of pesticides should not be substandard. In this regard agriculture pesticides act 1992 and Seed Amendment Act 2015 needs to be reviewed in detail and necessary punishment may be proposed by the parliament to end the cartelisation in these two sectors with the strict enforcement laws.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has carried out poisonous fumes spray of over 4,400 hectare area and survey of 313,000 hectare area under the locusts attack across the country in the last 24 hours. According to an NDMA spokesman on Friday, some 1,150 teams were engaged in the locusts control operation in the affected districts. They carried out both aerial and ground spray of 1,700 hectare area of Balochistan, 1,000 hectare area of Punjab, 900 hectare area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 800 hectare area of Sindh during the last 24 hours, he said. The spokesman said a total of 61 districts, 31 of Balochistan, 11 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 of Punjab and seven of Sindh, had been hit by the locust swarms.