Locusts are destroying crops in 61 districts in Pakistan, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.
This includes Balochistan’s 31 districts, 11 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab’s 12 and Sindh’s seven.
The disaster management authority said that they are surveying fields and a control operation is underway. At least 1,150 teams have been formed to control the locust invasion.
The infestation is reported to have caused billions of dollars of damage and is expected to create long-term food shortages.
Locusts are considered to be one of the most destructive insects for farmers and they feed on almost all types of crops. It has been estimated that a large swarm can eat as much as 35,000 people in a day. The insects also breed rapidly and are able to cover great distances, covering up to 200 kilometres every day.
The Pakistani government had declared a national emergency this year after locusts attacked winter crops. The first swarm reportedly came from the United Arab Emirates in 2019, and now it has come from Iran.
The Food and Agriculture Organization had warned of a locust invasion in the country. “Iran and Pakistan are especially prone as locust breeding is taking place in these areas, also due to the wet winter this year,” it said in a report.
“In Pakistan, 38% of the area [60% in Balochistan, 25% in Sindh and 15% in Punjab] are breeding grounds for the desert locust, whereas the entire country is under the threat of invasion if the desert locust is not contained in the breeding regions.”