The agriculture sector is essential for Pakistan’s economy, as it contributes 20% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and provides a livelihood to half of the nation’s workforce. However, in recent times, the sector has been under pressure due to coronavirus constraints and a rising threat from the locust swarms.
Pakistan is currently facing locusts covering an area of 57 million hectares in a country with a total crop area of 23 million hectares. Though the nation faced a similar insect attack last year from Iran, this year’s is the most severe in three decades.
This is why food experts believe that the swarms have now become a more significant threat to the country’s economy than the coronavirus pandemic, as the pests have endangered farm output, livelihoods, and food security.
Falak Naz, the Director-General of crop protection at the Ministry of Food Security and Research, said that not all the areas infested are croplands, but the insects are moving fast. He added that the government is diverting more money, initially allocated to fight the coronavirus, to help deal with the locust.
Ahmed Jawad, a fruit exporter and an adviser to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, declared locust invasion as a bigger problem than coronavirus in the country.
You can save yourself from the coronavirus by social distancing, but there’s no escaping a hunger crisis due to the locusts’ attack.
He said that the crops of wheat, oil-seeds, mangoes, pulses have already been damaged, and now the country’s cotton crop is facing a threat from the insects. If the cotton crop is attacked, it will affect cotton-based products that makeup about half of Pakistan’s exports, ringing alarms for the already shrinking economy.
Via: BNN Bloomberg