BADIN            -      Sindh Minister for Agriculture Mohammad Ismail Rahu has lashed out at the federal government for failing to cooperate with the Sindh government to contain the onslaught of locusts.

Talking to The Nation here on Friday, Rahu said that locusts which were laying eggs in May this year were now getting mature and attacking crops in number of districts of the province, adding he had warned that if the Plant Protection Department did not step in with the promised one hundred vehicles and aircraft for the operation, then the insects could play havoc with the crops in as many as eight districts of Sindh in the coming days and weeks.

“We have already informed and requested the top officials of the ‘incompetent’ federal government to provide us with one hundred vehicles and aircraft to completely overcome the emerging situation,” the minister said, and added, “But we have still to get these equipments despite commitments.”

He was of the view that the PTI government at Centre was least interested in resolving burning issues of the day like the Covid-19 pandemic and the locusts attacks.

“There are threats of some serious attacks in eight districts of Sindh, namely Badin, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Khairpur, Sukkur, Ghotki and Mirpurkhas in the coming weeks when the insects will get more mature,” he warned.

Rahu said that the officials of Plant Protection Department had informed him that they had some faulty vehicles with which they were unable to combat the possible huge attacks by the insects in those areas of Sindh.

Rahu further said that there were only two aircraft at Chhor, but they were not carrying out any operation in the affected areas due to unknown reasons.

The provincial minister said that Sindh government after the cold response from the federal government on the subject of locusts, had to purchase some required machinery to fight with the menace, adding that it was the top priority of the Sindh government to provide maximum relief to the farming community of the Sindh, especially in the rain-dependent arid zone of the province.

“We have prepared ourselves to counter attacks by insects in the desert if the swarms are reported in any part of Thar with the help of  the available little resources we have,” he said, and directed the officials to report to him and his office any such movement.

He said that it was on his directions, that the areas reporting presence of locusts were being sprayed.

Rahu said that a number of the schemes had already been launched by his department to boost the bio-saline agriculture where the people were only focusing on the fresh rainwater for the traditional crop cultivation. “We have to guide the farmers in the province to sow the crops by using the modern technologies keeping in view the importance of the demography,” he said, and added that there was a need to pay more focus on the environment and the ecology of the arid zone.

The minister said that a ban imposed by Sindh Home Department on the cultivation of crops on the grazing lands, tracts and on the top of sandy dunes ensured that livestock could get enough fodder in the wake of the current rainfall during monsoon season.

ARTS Foundation Distributes 35,608 Hygiene Items:

Advocacy, Research, Training & Services (ARTS) Foundation with generous support of Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and Oxfam Pakistan has formally kicked off distribution of 35,608 hygiene items in Mirpurkhas among the health professionals men/women, policemen, persons with disabilities, transgender, home-based women workers, sanitary workers, women hawkers, media persons and volunteers.

A formal meeting was held with Zahid Memon-Deputy Commissioner Mirpurkhas and Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Shah - District Health Officer Mirpurkhas as well as handed over them a formal letter and information about the initiative. The meeting was joined by Muhammad Rafique Laghari - President Rotary Club Mirpurkhas, Muhammad Bux Kapri representatives of Civil Society Mirpurkhas, Muhammad Masood Abass-Helping Hand Research and Development Mirpurkhas and ARTS Foundation team consisting on Shahzado Malik, Sohail Rathore and Ali Rana.

The team also met with Abdul Waheed Shaikh-Commissioner Mirpurkhas Division and Dr. Mukhtiar Ahmed-Coordinator (LHW).

In continuation of ARTS Foundation’s COVID19 response, during the lockdown as emerged due to corona virus, ARTS Foundation team along with trained volunteers has distributed food bags among more than 700 vulnerable families i.e. Women Headed Households, Orphans, People with Disability, Daily Wage Laborers and minorities in Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur and Khipro.

ARTS Foundation organized 3 FM radio awareness programs, installed 10 awareness banners on public places, sent around 38000 awareness SMS to public, published 03 awareness articles in daily newspapers, posted awareness banners and videos on the social media for greater outreach. This whole was made possible with the support of Philanthropists, German Consulate Karachi, Hashoo Foundation, Hisaar Foundation, NOWPDP, School of Leadership (SoL) Foundation and Ujala Network under AWAZ CDS Pakistan.

ARTS Foundation is effectively working with line departments to protect the most-at-risk segments of the society and vulnerable populations during the COVID-19.