ISLAMABAD - The federal government has said that it is working beyond its domain to help the provinces fight the locust attack as after the 18th Amendment the Center is mandated to deal locust from only international perspective and maintaining contacts with locust warning organizations.

The federal government is revising the National Action Plan for locust and is likely to hire new aircrafts for spraying pesticides to overcome the shortage of aircrafts, said a spokes­man of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) said here yesterday.

In response to the Sindh govern­ment’s allegations that the feder­al government is doing nothing for locust threat, the spokesman of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) said that the federal government is fully aware of its responsibilities and is active­ly pursuing the locust threat to the country.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has convened three special meet­ings on locust and approved and re­leased funds, amounting to Rs. 1 bil­lion to combat the locust threat. It is clarified that locust is not restricted to Sindh alone, rather it has its pres­ence and invaded other provinces as well.

The spokesman said that locust is an international phenomenon, threatening around 60 countries of the world. In Pakistan, swarms of de­sert locust are expected to migrate from Iran and other places to sum­mer breeding regions in Sindh and Punjab. The movement of these lo­custs across border cannot be re­stricted.

In anticipation of the possible threat, the federal government has evoked a national emergency on lo­cust, and as a result, a National Ac­tion Plan (NAP-DL-PAK) was put into place in collaboration with the prov­inces.

Resultantly, strong measures have been taken to survey the land areas in all the provinces in order to take control measures, where necessary.

According to the NDMA report, a total of 153,665 square km area has been surveyed. Out of this, 50,148 square km is in Sindh. Besides, active military units are deployed on the ground for support in terms of men and material. Survey reports are reg­ularly shared with FAO for obtaining technical guidance and support.

The Department of Plant Protec­tion (DPP), Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R), is working beyond its mandate, as af­ter the 18th Amendment, the federal government is mandated to deal lo­cust from only international perspec­tive and maintaining contacts with locust warning organizations.

The spokesperson said that the present locust swarm spotted in Sindh is from Koh e Suleman range and not from Baluchistan. As a safe­guard, DPP has deployed three ground teams, one helicopter and one Beaver aircraft in Sukkar.

Locust migration will start at the end of this month from Baluchistan and other countries. During this mi­gration, these migratory swarms are expected to cross through the crop­ping area of Sindh, for which the Sindh government may alert their agriculture staff to be ready for re­sponse. In this connection, 50 Agri­culture officers of Sindh Agriculture Departments were trained by DPP experts previously.

With the meagre resources of air­craft availability, the maximum aerial control activities were undertaken in the province of Sindh during 2019 (20,300 hectares), and will be contin­ued this year as well.

Similarly, during previous year, maximum area 185,000 hectares were treated in Sindh, out of to­tal 300,000 hectares. To overcome the shortage of aircrafts, the Federal Government is in the process of hir­ing aircrafts for spraying. More than 100,000 litres ULV pesticide has been stored in Sindh, and a greater quan­tity can be provided on requirement. Twelve (12) EC sprayers for the con­trol of locust in the cultivated areas have also been deployed in various districts of Sindh to overcome the problem.

Moreover, 87 ULV sprayers have been ordered by NDMA. Unfortunate­ly, the delivery of these sprayers has been delayed due to the COVID-19 situation in the country of manufac­ture.

The Ministry of National Food Secu­rity and Research is in the process of revising the National Action Plan for Locust, to make it more effective and resourceful. Instead of blame gaming, MNFS&R strongly appreciates the co­ordinated response of all stakehold­ers to combat this threat, including Sindh, said the spokesman.