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Pakistan to fight locusts with Turkish aid

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 38% of Pakistan's agriculture fields are breeding grounds for insects.

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Turkey’s state-run aid agency on Thursday donated new technology to Pakistan to fight locust attacks in the country.

The ULV vehicle-mounted and man-mounted machines along with pesticides were handed over by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TIKA) officials to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The handover ceremony was also attended by Federal Food Security and Research Minister Fakhar Imam, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul, and TIKA head in the capital Islamabad Gokhan Umut.

Read more: Locusts being fed to chickens in Pakistan: a creative solution

On the occasion, Imam thanked the Turkish government and the people for their generosity.

“The government is working to modernize the agriculture sector in the country, and these machines will upgrade agricultural technology,” he said.

In a tweet, Yurdakul said: “Happy to be part of Pakistan’s efforts to fight locust swarms.”

Last year swarms of locusts invaded agricultural fields in over 60 districts throughout Pakistan.

These insects, mainly originating from deserts, eat anything from bark to seeds and flowers while travelling up to 150 kilometres (93 miles) a day. Last May the region saw the first wave of a locust invasion since 1993.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 38% of Pakistan’s agriculture fields are breeding grounds for insects.

Worst invasion in decades

Pakistan is facing its worst locust infestation in two decades, prompting authorities to declare a national emergency. Millions of locusts have also engulfed India’s seven heartland states, including the western desert of Rajasthan, and threaten vegetable and pulse crops such as lentils and beans.

The last major locust surge was in 1993 when heavy rains created favourable breeding conditions for the insects along the India-Pakistan border.

Fresh swarms have arrived as governments in both countries are trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus and reeling from economic fallout associated with pandemic restrictions.

Read more: Well-done: After COVID-19, Pakistan defeats Tiddi Dal

The insects have caused extensive damage to pastures and crops and threatened food security in East African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea and Djibouti this year.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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