United Nation’s Locust Watch has named Pakistan among the countries endangered by the locust swarms alongside Iran and Sudan this year.
It says that several African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda are facing a serious threat to food security and livelihood as a large number of locust breeding grounds are maturing in the region.
Uganda, for example, has deployed the army in the fields to spray trees in the morning before locusts takeoff. Ethiopia, where 80 percent of the population survives in the agriculture sector, is facing the worst infestation in 25 years. Cross-border migration from Somalia and Kenya is the real danger for the country.
Pakistan is also facing a similar problem with cross-border migration from Iran. But, the locust threat here has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 carriers from Iran.
The country seems unprepared for the threat which is evident from the fact the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) locust update of March 17, 2020, had no mention of the threat. This identifies that the Department of Plant Protection (DPP), responsible for locust control, has not updated FAO in this regard.
A late intimation will mean that the country will take belated measures which may increase the threat to the country’s food security.
Though the country has declared a locust emergency, preparations in this regard are next to none. Experts believe that the DPP, instead of devising its own strategy for locust control, is relying heavily on China.
The FAO locust update reported about breeding grounds in the southwest provinces where these insects lay eggs. Similarly, local breeding is continued in the eastern Hormozgan where the locust is forming groups.
Though the government of Iran is taking measures to contain the menace in the south-west provinces, like South Khuzestan, Bushehr, South Fars, and West Hormozan, they lack the capacity, which was evident during the COVID-19 outbreak.