According to ARY News, the National Locust Control Center (NLCC) has achieved a milestone on Tuesday as no locust was found in any of the provinces. The press statement issued by the Ministry of National Food Security said no locust was found in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh during a survey.
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The NLCC surveyed around 129,072 hectares area of land during the past twenty-four hours however presence of swarms of locust was not found in any area, according to the statement.
During the past 6 months, the locust control operations carried out on 11,34,161 hectares of land across the country.
Earlier, the NLCC had announced that Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have been cleared of the swarms of locusts.
“Pakistan suffered its worst locust attack”
A few months ago, GVS reported that the threat of a locust flare-up comes as summer crops of cotton, sugar cane, and rice are being sown in Pakistan, while fruit and vegetables are ready to be harvested.
The latest FAO situation report warns that desert locust breeding is ongoing across 38% of land area in Pakistan, with the entire country under threat of an invasion if the pest is not contained. Pakistan suffered its worst locust attack in nearly three decades in 2019, for which the country was ill-prepared at the time.
China, meanwhile, is also assisting Pakistan in its locust efforts. The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement that Beijing has already sent teams of agricultural experts to advise Pakistani farmers, donated 300 tons of malathion, and 50 air-powered high-efficiency remote sprayers to combat the insects.
India’s proposed trilateral response
As Pakistan is almost free from locust, it confirmed that India proposed a trilateral response in partnership with Iran to counter the worst locust attack. “We have received a proposal from India,” Pakistan’s then Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told VOA.
“We believe that a well-coordinated response is critical to deal with the challenge posed by desert locusts,” she stressed. She would not say what Islamabad’s possible response to the Indian proposal would be.
Farooqui, however, noted that Pakistan was “working closely” with regional countries, including India and global partners, particularly the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to address the looming locust threat.
The ongoing wider regional cooperation is happening under FAO’s Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in Southwest Asia (SWAC), established in 1964 with Afghanistan, India, Iran, and Pakistan as its members.
Under the proposed trilateral response, New Delhi has reportedly suggested to Islamabad that both countries “coordinate locust control operations along the border and that India can facilitate the supply of malathion, a pesticide, to Pakistan.”
Keith Cressman, FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, told reporters that India and Pakistan face an “imminent threat of several waves of spring-bred swarms” from southwest Pakistan and southern Iran during May and June.
Earlier, BR Kadwa, deputy director of the agriculture department of India, said that “swarms of locusts are entering Rajasthan from adjoining areas in Pak every 2-3 days for a month. Pakistan has become the new breeding ground of the locusts and hence we are seeing the repeated attacks of locusts in the state. Four swarms have entered Jaipur recently”.
Notably, according to a report in Times of India, locust swarms have reached as far as Vidarbha in Maharashtra and caused crop damage. This, according to the report, has not happened since 1974.