Govt’s proactive approach helped control locust outbreak: minister

'Threat only exists in one district each of Balochistan and Sindh, while there is no presence of locust in KP and Punjab'

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ISLAMABAD: National Food Security & Research Minister Syed Fakhar Imam said on Friday that the proactive strategy adopted by the government helped control the spread of locust across the country, though the threat still exists in just two districts of Sindh and Balochistan.

“There is no presence of locust in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, but its presence still exists in one district each of Balochistan and Sindh,” the minister said while briefing the media on Friday.

He said that earlier when the National Locust Control Center started its operations with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, locusts were active in 33 districts, which has now been restricted to just two districts.

Lauding the role of Pakistan Army in controlling the locust outbreak, the minister said the army personnel fought the menace like they were on the battlefield. He also lauded the role of workers engaged in ground operations against the spread of locust.

A comprehensive strategy was developed under which the coordination was ensured at federal, district and community level to prevent such type of attacks and loss in future, he maintained.

The minister said as per the assessment of provinces and districts, the timely engagement mitigated the losses to the crop.

He said the present government would be making a comprehensive mechanism to cope with such challenges in the future, adding that the government would develop a department of plant protection.

He said around 200 employees are being hired in the department to overcome the human resource gap. The employees would include 100 locust specialists, 50 assistant locust specialists and 50 other supporting staff members.

Currently, he said, there were ample locust sprayers available with the government, of which some were donated by other countries.

“The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded one million pounds to Pakistan, while the British government also donated 100 sprayers, of 80 were received. Similarly, China donated 300,000 litres malathion (insecticide), with one Chinese multinational company also donating $100,000,” he added.

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