More locust attacks loom large as provincial, federal govts remain lax


KARACHI: Locust insects seem to be more powerful as compared to the Sindh and federal government as each expects the other to control further attacks by the insect, Pakistan Today has learnt.

It may be mentioned here that locusts have recently attacked many districts of the province including Khairpur, Sanghar, Tharparkar etc. whereas the authorities concerned seemed unprepared and unwilling to tackle the situation to avoid heavy losses to the standing crops in the province.

Meanwhile, Department of Plant Protection (DPP) Advisor and Ministry of National Food Security and Research Director General (DG) Dr Falak Naz forwarded a letter to the Sindh Agriculture Extension DG, seeking assistance in controlling the spread of the insects.

According to Dr Naz, DPP has a mandate to conduct a desert locust survey and controlling operations in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan provinces. “In Sindh, the department has established two permanent offices at Mirpurkhas and Sukkur to tackle the pests effectively. It is carrying out the Desert Locust Control Operation in Sindh since the first week of June 2019. Ground and aerial teams of the department have treated an area of 8,715 hectares in Sukkur, Khairpur, Tharparkar and Ghotki districts of Sindh so far”, she said in a letter available with Pakistan Today.

She said that ecological conditions have become conducive due to the current spell of monsoon rains in desert areas; therefore, the desert locust population may further increase if it is not timely controlled.

In order to launch immediate control operations in any locust affected area of the province, the department has established five sub-outposts one each at Nagarparkar, Chachro, Salehpat, Thari Mirwah and Ghotki along with deputing field staff along with survey control vehicles at the sub-outposts.

“As the department’s resources are limited and the desert is very vast, your good office is kindly requested to support us by providing 20 double cabin vehicles for survey and control operations, sufficient quantity of ULV pesticides and Micronair Sprays (Solo Mist Duster EC+ULV pesticides) to kill the pests effectively and save agriculture crops which are very close to the desert. Furthermore, manpower of your department may be engaged with the DPP team, especially in Tharparkar desert, to strengthen the work”, the letter further states.

Most interestingly, Sindh Agriculture, Supply and Prices Department Deputy Secretary Riaz Ahmed Dayo on October 30, 2019, forwarded a letter to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary seeking help for the operation as well.

“I am directed to refer to the subject noted above and to intimate that due to the recent heavy rains in Sindh, locusts are breeding at a very quick rate which may cause heavy damages to standing crops,” the letter reads.

It may be mentioned here that the district administration of locust affected areas of Sindh has already collaborated with the federal DPP by providing 4×4 vehicles and other necessary logistic arrangements to overcome the infestation.