Islamabad-The Federal government is launching pilot project for using locusts for developing bio-compost with an expected return of around Rs2.80 billion in two years.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) is piloting a project to use locusts for developing bio-compost through community mobilization, said a spokesman for the NFS&R.

The project is at approval stage and the pilot testing will be launched in Cholistan and Thar. If 10 per cent population of both pilot areas becomes active then 222,000 force available to combat against locust. The project will result in protection of biodiversity and fully mobilisation of local community to develop well informed system to protect 23.6 mha of cropped area, the spokesman said. There will be reduction in environmental pollution, the spokesman added.

And there will be Introduction of low cost (60-70 per cent lower) compost and expected return will be around Rs2.80 billion in two year, said the spokesman. It will result in Improving soil organic matter (SOM), soil fertility and soil health. Through this project, Organic farming will be promoted in Pakistan. It will improve crop productivity by 10-15 per cent.

Giving details it was informed that for converting locusts into bio compost the implementation mechanism devised includes: Pilot testing of whole idea in Cholistan and Thar Desert during next 3-4 summer breeding months. Consultation with regional Civil Society Organizations for community mobilization (NRSPs, PRSPs, local NGOs etc.), Capacity building of communities in trapping locust (trenching, netting, vacuum sucking etc.), Designation of around 50 collection centers to facilitate communities, Management of collection, transportation and processing sites, Arid zone Centers/Institutes of PARC Bahawalpur (29), Tharparkar/umerkot (42), Lakki Marwat/DI Khan (41) will be involved in execution of the project, Human resources available at different institutes Kharan Dryland Center of Balochistan (27) and Agriculture Research Institutes of PARC at Turbat (12), Lasbella (23) & Khuzdar (26) will be involved in execution of the project. Similarly labs of Land Resources Research Institute (LRRI) and Ecotoxicology Program of PARC will provide scientific backup for the production of standard compost, 14 dumping/processing sites will be identified in Tharparkar, Cholistan, Turbat and Lakki Marwat, About 10,000 pits of size 500 cft each (10´×10´×5´) will be prepared to process compost, turner, shredder, chopper, sheds and other equipment will be installed at 5 sites, around 50 per cent locust, 35 per cent manure and 15 per cent plant residue will be used to produce compost with standard C:N ratio (20:1), The product will be tested for pesticide residues at collection during processing and after product formulation. The average earning from 25 Kg locust will be around Rs6000.