PESHAWAR - Environmentalists and Wildlife experts are hailing government’s plan of countering locust attacks in the country by giving financial incentives to people to catch the pest and sell it to poultry farm­ers as protein rich feed.

The approach has been termed as environment friendly because using aerial spray of pesticides for culling swarms of locust would leave negative impact on human health through contami­nation of crops, water besides af­fecting birds population by eat­ing of poisoned pests.

It merits a mention here that the federal cabinet with the Prime Minister in chair in its meeting on June 2. 2020 while holding discus­sion on locust attacks in the coun­try had approved a proposal for dealing the threat by giving finan­cial incentives to people to catch these insects and supply to poul­try farmers at the rate of Rs. 15 per kg. The plan is already introduced and executed in Okara district of Punjab through the efforts of Mu­hammad Khurshid, a civil servant in Ministry of National Food Secu­rity and Research and Johar Ali, a Bio-technologist from Pakistan Agriculture Research Council.For attracting people towards the pro­gramme, they used the slogan of `Catch locusts, Earn Money.

Save Crops’.Prime Minister, Im­ran Khan while hailing the pilot project expressed the desire that this biological control approach should be implemented across the country after consent of prov­inces as this would not only give some relief to already corona­virus hit people but also boost poultry farming, besides eradica­tion of migratory insects.“Infact, the Prime Minister wanted to turn the crisis into an opportunity, therefore, he approved a plan of catching and selling locusts,” said Federal Minister for Information, Shibli Faraz while talking with newsmen after the cabinet meet­ing. “This approach of countering locust attacks would not damage the environment and ecosys­tem which will become affected through use of pesticides,” ob­served Jamshed Iqbal Chaudhry, Senior Manager Research and Conservation, WWF-Pakistan.