The FAO National Coordinator for Locust Control Operation in Pakistan, Dr Mubarik Ahmed, told Dawn on Friday that Thana Bulla Khan Taluka in Jamshoro district was the last affected area in Pakistan where a control operation continued and by Saturday the area would be cleared from locusts. Lasbela, a coastal district of Balochistan, is now completely cleared of locusts.
Dr Mubarik said that there was no threat of desert locust attacks in Pakistan in near future since locusts had been eliminated from Somalia, Iran and India.
FAO terms Pakistan’s massive control operation ideal
He informed a weekly meeting of the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) on Friday that the FAO was quoting the locust control operation in Pakistan as ideal. In Southwest Asia, the situation continues to improve as the seasonal monsoon withdrew from the summer breeding areas along both sides of the India-Pakistan border. The focus should now be on monitoring closely so that swarms could not form groups, he said.
The government has been taking numerous anticipatory actions in collaboration with the FAO, in coordination with neighbouring countries and with the support of international partners to address the threat and be prepared for a timely and effective response.
The FAO has helped the locust surveillance and control programme in Pakistan by providing technical and operational support from the very early onset. The adoption of new technology has allowed a faster and more effective assessment of the locust infestation and helped focus on and stage control operations.
Chairing the meeting of the NLCC, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam termed the locust control operations by the NLCC exemplary. During the past week, 12,514 square kilometres have been surveyed while the control operation was carried out on six sq-kms.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department informed the meeting that continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country, and hot and dry weather is likely to prevail over most parts of the country.
Sindh recently reported that locusts were found in Jamshoro, but it was controlled effectively. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab said that no locust attack was reported in the provinces. However, anti-locust survey and control operations are in progress.
During the past 24 hours, 183,740 hectares have been surveyed, and the locust control operation was carried out on 310 hectares of Jamshoro district. In the past six months, the control operation was carried out on 1,132,530 hectares of land.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2020