Locust swarms destroy vegetation, crops in Sindh province of Pakistan

Locust swarms destroy vegetation, crops in Sindh province of Pakistan

Locust swarms destroy vegetation, crops in Sindh province of Pakistan

By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Representative

Karachi: Locust swarms’ attacks have caused serious damages to the standing crops in 11 districts of Sindh province including the suburban areas of Karachi, the provincial capital, during last seven months, the provincial government officials said.

Locust, a short-horned grasshopper in the family of Acrididae, is not new to Pakistan. It caused devastation to Pakistani agriculture in 1950s, 1960s and 1990s. However, the current attack is said to be worst, as it has ravaged the wheat, cotton and vegetable crops.

The emergence of desert locust was first reported in Nara desert of Khairpur district on May 13, 2019 which had come from India, provincial agriculture minister Ismail Rahu informed the Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a recent meeting. “The locust swarms were observed in transition status in many districts which caused damage to the standing crops,” minister told.

The worst affected areas were the districts bordering India on the east. Despite the reports of locust swarms’ attack, none of the federal and provincial governments took timely preventive measures like aerial sprays over the affected areas with the result that the menace spread to several other districts. It was only first week of December when the Federal Plant Protection Department was contacted who to the provincial authorities that they are short of funds required for helicopters’ fuel, which the provincial government released urgently to buy the insecticides and begin the spray.

Last month, when the locust swarms attacked Karachi, in response to take measures to avert locust threat in metropolis, provincial Minster for agriculture Mr. Rahu sarcastically suggested panicked citizens ‘to make good biryani (oriental spicy rice) out of locust.’ And interestingly, some people did so and got the locust fried to serve it as ‘delicious’ dish.

However, the farmers are worried, as according to them the locust destroyed their crop and completely wiped the only source of their livelihood.

The U.S. Consul General in Karachi Mr. Silberstein, who accompanied by his team, undertook 4-day visit to three southern districts of Sindh, and witnessed the damages caused by locust, expressed his concern on grave situation during his meeting with Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah in Karachi on Tuesday December 9.

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