The locust attack on Pakistani crops, which can lead to starvation, loss of livelihood and long-term food shortage, has been rightly recognised by the Punjab government as an emergency and needs the strictest action possible. The government has stepped up by releasing Rs 1 billion as to combat the pest invasion in all districts of the province. A plan is also in place to mitigate the damage that would be caused by this locust swarm.

The first step is effective monitoring of the situation. If breeding and forwarding of the locust movement could be checked, then excess damage could perhaps be avoided. Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has allocated his helicopter for continuous and strict monitoring of the locust attack; aerial surveys are important as long as they lead to more targeted pesticide dispersal. Helicopters have also been opted for by India, which too will have its crops ravaged if this swarm of short-horned grasshoppers are not controlled. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have also suggested the use of drones in the surveillance of locusts.

The main approach that the government seems to be taking is that of arrangements for aerial spray. This is also in line with what India is doing – aerial spraying of pesticides. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether this will be enough. Creative ideas are also coming forth, such as using local labour to capture resting locusts and sell them by the kilo for chicken feed. This becomes both a source of income for those affected by the loss of crop and a means to slow down the locusts, albeit on its own, this is not nearly enough.

Admittedly, we are in a tougher position than India since our locust attack is more imminent. On top of what the government is already doing, additional measures and harsher action might need to be taken to prevent the disastrous impact that this locust swarm could cause. Perhaps this is also the time to invest in further research into preventing locust attacks in countries like ours, and to embark upon projects to do so without the use of insecticides.