How swarming locust can affect agriculture production in Pakistan?

According to government data, Pakistan is the fourth-largest producer of cotton in the world and its third-largest consumer. Pakistan produces 7.55 percent of the entire world's cotton, slotting in behind India, China, and the US, according to the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee's annual report. Currently, 30 countries are facing the menace of locust across the world.

locust

Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers. It swarmed into Sindh are believed to be mainly desert locusts. These are known for their ability to fly great distances.

The threat to Pakistan’s cotton sector is real, and any attack by the insect on Sindh’s crops could exacerbate difficulties the industry has been facing with dwindling yields and high input prices.

Meanwhile. the outbreak of locust plague in Pakistan during November and December battered the 40 percent of exporting crops of Pakistan. This plague has affected cotton, wheat, and vegetable.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Pakistan about a possible infestation of the marauding insects in November 2019. However, it started in the Thar desert due to its massive breeding in the summer and it outbroke in Balochistan. It has been increasing in many agricultural cities in Punjab, where it has badly affected the exporting crops in Pakistan.

Cause of the Locust breeding in Pakistan

The massive outbreak of locust in Pakistan is basically the outcome of climate change. The favorable conditions emerged in the desert areas that caused breeding of locust in the country. However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UNO  the current locust outbreak was unanticipated and was initially expected to subside by mid-November. However, the outbreak has persisted due to favorable weather conditions, caused by climate change, for the locusts to breed.

The agriculture-based economy of Pakistan

Being an agrarian country, Pakistan cannot afford to lose its agriculture base. If it happens, the country would be facing a severe threat of food security and the unavailability of raw materials for the industry that would make the national economy vulnerable.

Read more: Lahore Chamber calls for urgent steps to save farmers from locust

Pakistan government announced an emergency on Feb 1, 2020, in order to curtail locust breeding in the country. In this regard, Pakistan has also asked India to mutually fight against the insect to avoid losses of agriculture production. Recently, the government has taken steps by announcing an emergency situation to fight against the plant destroying insects.

Interestingly, Pakistan is the only country in the region that has that maintains its own fleet of aircraft dedicated to locust survey and control operations. The government has also devised 128 teams in the country. Through these teams, 7.5 lac hectare will be monitored and sprayed through air fleets with the help of PIA, and Airforce flights.

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