Locust swarms exist in 43 districts, warns NDMA

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ISLAMABAD: The existence of locust swarms in 43 districts of the country has raised alarm for farmers and local population, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) warned on Monday.

Around 5,300 hectares in Balochistan, 1,000 hectares in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 500 hectares in Sindh have been sprayed in the past one day, and overall 6,230,000 hectares of area has so far been sprayed across the country, an NDMA spokesperson said.

Locusts have also engulfed several cities of the country, including Sukkur, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan, threatening vegetable and pulse crops such as lentils and beans. As per the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, swarms can vary from less than one square kilometre to several hundred sq km. Each square kilometre can contain at least 40 million insects.

The spokesperson said that dense swarms of locusts are considered to be highly dangerous for aircraft as they would not just cause damage to the engine but could create serious visibility issues for the pilots.

On the other hand, the locals fearing damage to their crops and fruit farms are taking efforts on the self-help basis to get rid of locusts. They have also urged the government to conduct spray to get rid of the locusts, he said.

The NDMA spokesperson said survey and spray operations were underway across the country to control the spread of locusts.

He said locusts existed in 29 districts — Khuzdar, Nushki, Chagai, Gwadar, Kaij, Panjgur, Kharan, Washuk, Quetta, Barkhan, Dera Bugti, Harnai, Jhal Magsi, Bolan, Kalat, Killa Abdullah, Kila Saifullah, Kohlu, Loralai, Mastung, Musa Khel, Naseerabad, Pishin, Sibi, Serab, Sohbutpur, Zhob and Ziarat — in Balochistan, nine districts — Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Lakki Marwat, Karak, Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber — in KP and five districts — Khairpur, Sukkur, Tharparkar, Benazirabad and Jamshoro — in Sindh.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2020

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