Second and unprecedented wave of locust invasion expected to hit Pakistan

Second and unprecedented wave of locust invasion expected to hit Pakistan

Another unprecedented wave of locust plague is expected to hit Pakistan by the end of May 2020, posing threats of food security crisis and livelihood losses. The invasion will start from the southwestern province of Balochistan, passing through the cropping area of southern Sindh province during the migration, according to the Ministry of National Food Security and research.

Desert locusts are expected to migrate from Iran and other areas to the summer breeding regions in Sindh, as well as eastern Punjab provinces, the ministry added, noting that it will be difficult to contain the movement of the insects but measures will be taken.

"Slowly and gradually, these locusts are eating away at everything in cultivated lands. Now, they are moving towards other fields in nearby villages," said a farmer named Maulvi Satar Baloch. Other residents of Garang in Washuk district, said desert locusts are growing day by day in the area.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of a potentially serious food security crisis and major livelihood losses unless prompt action is taken to contain the insects breeding in parts of Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab.

In response to the threat, the Pakistani government announced a national emergency in February and a national action plan, in collaboration with the affected provinces. 

The ministry said in a statement that agencies like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and provincial agricultural departments are working together for the purpose of survey and control. Military units are also sent for support.

Survey reports are done regularly with FAO for acquiring technical support. "In southwest Asia, hopper groups and bands are present in southern Iran and in Pakistan where substantive control operations continue," FAO stated. 

"Adult groups and small swarms from breeding in Balochistan, the Indus Valley, and Punjab in Pakistan will move to desert areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border from now onwards."

"This is expected to be supplemented by several waves of swarms coming from the spring breeding areas during June."

Strong measures have been taken to assess the land areas in all the provinces, with a total of 153 665 square km (59 553 square miles) surveyed so far.

Featured image credit: FAO emergencies

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