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Locust swarms destroying Pakistan’s crops: What went wrong this year?

Government efforts are too little too late, says farmers' spokesperson

SAMAA | - Posted: May 28, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: May 28, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

Photo: AFP

Crops grown on thousands of acres of land in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan have become fodder for locusts instead of people this year. But locusts have been in Pakistan for more than 70 years, so why then are our crops more prone to them now?

Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Chairperson Chaudhry Muhammad Anwer told SAMAA TV anchor Ali Haider on Wednesday that this is because crops need to be sprayed with bug-killing material on time. Once the spraying is done, it keeps the locusts away, but the government lost the plot this season.

The National Disaster Management Authority has set up a hotline 051-111-222-999 to register complaints of locust attacks. The federal government has also assured that it will look into the matter, but Anwer, the spokesperson for farmers, believes this is too little too late.

“Both the government and agriculture departments have not been responding to any of our calls. They are fooling us,” he said.

Anwer said the invading locusts will force a food crisis on the public that may create a scenario that may topple the PTI-led federal government.

“Wherever [locusts] stay overnight, they eat entire vegetable and cotton crops. It’s such a big problem that it will take down the whole government with it.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization foresees a loss of Rs393 billion across Pakistan this winter if the locust attacks persists, but Anwer feels the losses will exceed this due to the government’s ineptitude.

“I pray that these locusts eat away Federal Food Minister Fakhar Imam’s farms as well. His farms are safe as of yet,” he added.

Anwer claimed that keeping the locusts at bay does not require massive work. A mere Detol spray or the usual pesticides will do the job.

The anchor said the government says it has begun curbing the locust invasions but a disgruntled Anwer said this wasn’t the case.

Whether it is Multan, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Pirwalam or Bahawalnagar, no government official has been seen spraying any medicine, said the ittehad chairperson.

He had an answer to the invading locusts: in each union council, a team of 10 land owners can be formed. They’ll use their resources to get rid of the locusts.

Anwer remarked that if the government cannot tackle the issue, the least it could do was accord him the authority to do it instead.

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