Islamabad – Pakistani authorities have declared a national emergency to battle the swarms of desert locusts which are eating crops on a large scale and raising fears of food insecurity.
“We are facing the worst locust infestation in more than two decades and have decided to declare national emergency to deal with the threat,” Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Saturday.
The decision and a national action plan to deal with the locust threat were approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan after a detailed briefing on Friday.
“I have doubts that we will be able to achieve our wheat production target of 27 million tonnes this year,” Nisar Khaskhali, a farmer and member of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture told dpa.
Also on Friday, Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Bakhtiar told the National Assembly that the locust attack is unprecedented and alarming.
He said authorities were struggling to deal with the infestation of the desert locusts due to limited resources.
The crop-eating grasshopper entered Pakistan in June from Iran and has already affected large areas across south-western districts and ravaged cotton, wheat, maize and other crops.
The locust has travelled all the way from the southern province of Sindh to the northern-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Favourable weather conditions and a delayed response by the authorities have helped the locusts breed and launch attacks from the desert on crop areas and nearby towns.