Amid the measures taken to curb the surging infection rates related to COVID-19, the Pakistan government has started preparing to tackle the issue of desert locust which, if not controlled, will endanger food security in the country.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari recently issued a statement regarding the threat of the locust attack, Dawn reported.
On Sunday, National Food Security Minister Syed Fakhr Imam came up with a rejoinder, saying that his ministry was working with the department of plant protection beyond its mandate. He explained that after the 18th Amendment, the government can deal with the locust issue from an international perspective and maintaining contacts with locust monitoring orgsations.
Bhutto argued that despite numerous requests last year, the provinces were left at the mercy of desert locust. "If the federal government fails once again, the country will face another disaster in the wake of desert locust attack," he warned.
Responding to the Sindh government's allegations that the federal government was "doing nothing" for locust threat in the province, the food security ministry said it was fully aware of its responsibility and actively pursuing the threat.
"We are confident that the nation will collectively respond in the best possible manner to the challenge at hand," the minister stated, adding that the government is in the process of revisiting the 'National Action Plan for Locust' to make it more effective and resourceful.
The ministry also said that the threat of locust was not restricted to Sindh, but other provinces were also affected by it. The present locust swarm spotted in Sindh is from Koh-i-Suleman range and not from Balochistan.
As a precautionary measure, the Federal Plant Protection Department has deployed three ground teams, one helicopter and one beaver aircraft in Sukkur.
The migration of locust is expected to start from the end of May from Balochistan and neighbouring countries. During migration, these migratory swarms were expected to cross through the cropping area of Sindh, for which the provincial government may alert its agriculture staff to be ready for response.
In this connection, 50 officers of the Sindh agriculture department have already been trained by experts of the Plant Protection Department, according to the ministry.
( With inputs from ANI )