ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam on Friday said that July will bring with it a new threat of locust swarms, with more of the pests entering Pakistan from Africa, Iran, Oman, Afghanistan and India.
He said locusts have now taken a new route to enter Dera Ismail Khan and Waziristan through Afghanistan.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has ordered 11 planes to carry out anti-locust spraying, whereas five helicopters of Pakistan Army are also being used in this regard.
“The locust attacks have affected various parts of the country and an anti-locust attack survey should be conducted to tackle the problem,” he added.
Hailing the joint efforts of institutions in eradicating the national conundrum, the minister said that it is because of National Logistics Cell (NLC) that collective efforts are being made to come to grips with the problem that has taken the nation by storm.
He said that the ministry is also recruiting 100 entomologists in order to find effective and practical solutions to the locust problem.
Imam said that China has played an integral role in assisting Pakistan to combat the locust attacks, and that the ministry is also in touch with other international organisations.
“[In this regard] the UK and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has provided 20 micron sprays to combat locusts,” the minister said.
The country is currently trying to ward off the worst locust attack that it has seen for the past three decades, reported foreign media.
In Pakistan, the desert locusts have reportedly entered from Iran, and have already devoured considerable quantities of crops in over 60 districts in all provinces, including Balochistan in the southwest.
Pakistan is intensifying efforts to combat the plague with pest control systems which include aerial spraying.