ISLAMABAD   -   With prompt and massive assistance from China, Pakistan has averted the worst-ever swarms of desert locusts and eliminated the insects, said officials and farmers in hard-hit Bahawalpur, Mirpurkhas and Layyah regions, according to Gwadar Pro on Thursday.

“It was not possible without support from our all-weather friend, said a senior official of Pakistan’s National Locust Control Centre, while commenting on a recent report of the NLCC, which revealed that no locusts were reported from KP, Sindh, and Punjab provinces of the country.

Kishore Togani, who comes from Mirpurkhas division in Sindh province, said that Tharparkar division of the province, which served as breeding ground for the desert locust along the Indian border, was flourishing after rains as the swarms were successfully eliminated. 

A widespread effort by the Sindh government with the pesticides and equipment provided by China saved our lands from the locust onslaught, Togani said, adding that the locust would have not spared any green plant in the division if it was not effectively controlled.

Shahid Malik, who collects honey from areas in Bahawalpur division of Punjab, complained that powerful landlords in their areas influenced the officials to conduct anti-locust operation in their lands on a priority basis. Anyhow, our areas are now safe from locust, he said.

The NLCC in the report said that anti-locust operations have been completed in 1,131,865 hectares across the affected districts and eliminated the pest completely from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab.

China provided 300,000 litres of required pesticides, 12 drone sprayers and 30 other spraying equipment, with a total worth of US$5 million, to help Pakistan get rid of an existential threat. Pakistani officials and farmers have expressed gratitude for China’s decisive aid against desert locust.

The NLCC official said that they were still surveying affected areas for leftover swarms to avoid future threat.

The official said that without the support of China, Pakistan had less resources to fight against the worst locust attack in the history of the country.