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Pak to setup national locust control cell to combat insects swarms: Minister

PTI | Islamabad | Updated: 29-05-2020 15:52 IST | Created: 29-05-2020 15:47 IST
Pak to setup national locust control cell to combat insects swarms: Minister
Representative Image Image Credit: www.fao.org

The Pakistan government will set up a national body to combat the locust swarms across the country as the insects have destroyed crops and vegetation on vast tracts of lands in 60 out of total 135 districts, a senior minister has said. Speaking to reporters here, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the efforts to control locusts were going on under a national strategy as there was a dire need to deal with it.

"The proposed National Locust Control Cell was part of the national locust control policy. We fear that there would be a great threat of locust swarms in July this year. The government is preparing for it," Faraz said on Thursday. Locusts have destroyed crops and vegetation on vast tracts of lands in 60 out of a total of 135 districts of the country.

Faraz said nine planes and helicopters were taking part in the campaign to spray pesticides and kill the swarms. The government has set up a helpline so that farmers could inform the authorities to take timely action against the deadly locust attacks.

In Pakistan, hopper bands of the Schistocerca gregaria, commonly known as the desert locust, are believed to have entered into the southwestern Balochistan province, from neighboring Iran. They devour anything from bark to seeds and flowers while traveling up to a speed of 149 km a day.

The first wave of locust arrived in May last year, which was their first attack since 1993. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Pakistan's 38 percent of agricultural fields are breeding grounds for the insects.

The FAO report said the locust could cause Rs 817 billion (about USD 5.08 billion) loss to Pakistan's agriculture produce this year.


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