Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued a report warning that the second wave of desert locust may swarm the farmlands in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan. The second wave will affect 38% of the country’s total area.
Now, according to a few reports, the locust swarm has already reached Chakwal that is just about a hundred kilometres away from Islamabad.
But an operation is underway to control the attack and stop it from migrating to other cities.
Pakistan has declared a nationwide emergency and urgently asked for help from the international community. This is the second time since 1993 that locusts threaten to devastate crops in the region.
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When did it start?
The locust swarm entered Pakistan in June last year from Iran. According to the FAO’s Locust Watch report, “The threat of swarm formation is from late September 2019 onward.”
The Federal Food Ministry and FAO signed a $500,000 cooperation program available to local experts to strengthen their capacities to combat the attack in February 2020.
In Balochistan, the desert locust in Washuk district is growing day by day. Despite the pesticides, they continue to move towards and destroy the cultivated lands in the neighboring Kharan district.
The swarms of locust had entered Kashmore, Larkana, as well as Umerkot and Thar. Whereas, a second wave is also predicted to enter Sindh after May 15.
In Punjab, the worst affected areas include Jhang, Layyah, Mankera, Okara, and Pakpattan. And now the infestation has also affected the crops in Chakwal.
If not contained timely, the infestation will destroy the crops spread on 36% of the total land (60% in Balochistan, 25% in Sindh, and 15% in Punjab).
The infestation can damage 15% of the production of wheat, gram and potato making the losses to agriculture reach PKR 205 billion.
The locust swarm will cause a serious food security crisis throughout the year if the threat is not timely eliminated.
Pakistan being an agricultural country may bear a Rs. 600 bn loss to its economy due to locust attack in 2020.