Amid Covid-19 outbreak, Pak government prepares to tackle locust crisis

ISLAMABAD: Amid measures taken to curb rising infection rates, the Pakistani government has begun preparing to tackle the desert locust problem that, if left unchecked, will jeopardize food security in the country .

President of the People's Party of Pakistan (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, recently released a statement on the threat of the locust attack, Dawn reported.

On Sunday, the national minister for Food Security, Syed Fakhr Imam, filed a rebuttal, saying his ministry was working with the plant protection department beyond his mandate. He explained that after the 18th Amendment, the government can address the lobster issue from an international perspective and maintain contacts with lobster monitoring organizations.

Bhutto argued that despite numerous requests from last year, the provinces were left at the mercy of the desert locust. If the federal government fails once again, the country will face another disaster in the wake of the desert locust attack, he warned.

Responding to allegations by the Sindh government that the federal government was doing nothing about the lobster threat in the province, the food security ministry said it was fully aware of its responsibility and actively pursuing it.

We are confident that the nation will collectively respond in the best possible way to the challenge at hand, the minister said, adding that the government is in the process of revising the 'National Action Plan for Lobster' to make it more effective and resourceful.

The ministry also said that the locust threat was not limited to Sindh, but that other provinces were also affected. The present swarm of locusts seen in Sindh is from the Koh-i-Suleman range and not from Baluchistan.

As a precautionary measure, the Federal Department of Plant Protection has deployed three ground crews, a helicopter, and a beaver aircraft in Sukkur.

Lobster migration is expected to start from the end of May from Balochistan and neighboring countries. During migration, these migratory swarms were expected to pass through the cultivation area of ​​Sindh, for which the provincial government can alert its agriculture staff to be ready for the response.

In this regard, 50 officials from the Sindh agriculture department have already been trained by experts from the Plant Protection Department, according to the ministry.