Pakistan all set to counter impending locust invasion: FAO

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Pakistan is well prepared to combat an impending attack of crop-eating locust from breeding grounds in southern Iran, even as the South Asian country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, a senior official of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN agency, said.
Speaking to United Nations (UN) correspondents in New York via video-link from Rome, Keith Cressman, FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, called the current desert locust outbreak as the worst in decades for countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan and India, saying the agency was doing all it can to help these countries control this menace that threatens their food security.
Responding to a question from APP specifically about the operations in Pakistan, Cressman noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already declared a national emergency to meet the challenge. Since then, he said, Pakistan has been very actively working to get ready for action.
In this regard, he said, the government has been training all their personnel, recruiting additional hands, procuring stocks of pesticides, vehicles and aircraft. Also, Pakistanis are ready, if need be, to quickly upscale their operations.
He said unlike Kenya, Pakistan also has some experience of dealing with locust swarms in the past and they have systems in place. Cressman expressed satisfaction over the response to FAO’s international appeal for funds that has already brought in US $ 158 million. In addition, he said, the World Bank has made a generous contribution that would help boost the agency’s efforts to help the affected countries.
Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has completed the poisonous fumes spray of over 5,900 hectare and survey of 479,000 hectare locust swarm hit area of the country in the last 24 hours.
A spokesman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said in a statement that both ariel and ground spray of various districts was being continued right now.
Sharing details of the ongoing efforts to kill locust swarms, he said the spraying of 3,500 hectare area of Balochistan and 1,600 hectare area of Punjab had been completed in the last 24 hours. The treatment of 400 hectare area each of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh had been finished in the last 24 hours.