Pakistan has decided to compensate the farmers whose fields have been destroyed in locust attacks across the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan approved on Friday the second phase of the National Action Plan to combat the locust invasion while visiting the National Locust Control Centre alongside Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Locusts proved to be another big challenge for Pakistan along with the novel coronavirus, remarked the premier while chairing a meeting.
“The government will make every effort to combat the situation,” he said, adding that the country needs to improve its systems.
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam told the PM that they need Rs26 billion funds to combat the locust threat. Of the amount, Rs14 billion will be provided by the Centre while Rs12 billion by the provinces.
Pakistani farmers suffered losses worth millions of rupees after invading armies of locusts devoured their crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.
The National Disaster Management Authority has set up a hotline 051-111-222-999 to register complaints of locust attacks.
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.”