ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said that desert locusts have started breeding in the desert areas of Tharparkar, Nara and Cholistan, their reproduction is increased by the end of this month.
A new report on locust swarms in northern Somalia suggests that migration from Somalia across the Indian Ocean to summer-growing areas on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border could be imminent.
According to the FAO, more swarms are expected in Somalia in the coming weeks and Pakistan and India have been warned while both countries should continue to take precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam presided over a meeting of the National Locust Control Center (NLCC), where it was informed that the NLCC had prepared an ‘Integration Rate Map’ on a daily basis and it is being shared with all the provinces.
Syed Fakhr Imam said that there was an urgent need to prepare large-scale provincial maps to predict the migration of locusts to the tehsil level.
In addition, a Foreign Ministry official who attended the meeting said that Saudi Arabia and Kenya had expressed interest in a bilateral exchange of information on locusts.
Meanwhile, Syed Fakhr Imam told VOA that by the end of this month, 11 planes will arrive in the country for aerial spraying in locust-affected areas.
At present, the aerial operation is being carried out with the help of 3 Plant Protection Department aircraft and 5 helicopters provided by the Pakistan Army.
He said that locust infestation had caused limited damage to crops but the government was conducting a survey to assess the damage to crops.
Syed Fakhr Imam said that the Meteorological Department had forecast more rains than usual in the current monsoon season and it was feared that heavy rains would damage the Kharif crops.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government officials present at the meeting said that no locust activity was observed in the province while 171,911 acres of land was surveyed in the last 24 hours.
Balochistan government officials said that the provincial government has taken all possible steps to eradicate locusts. In the last 24 hours, it was found that locusts had attacked 22 districts while the government had launched an operation against them on 222 acres of agricultural land.
The meeting was informed by the Punjab government that a survey of 260,516 acres of land had been completed and no locust activity was observed in the last 25 hours.
It was also informed that teams are working in the Cholistan as well as Pakpattan and Lodhran. A representative of the Sindh government said that 94,807 acres had been surveyed in the last 24 hours while work was underway in Tharparkar and Nara districts.