ISLAMABAD - As the locust outbreak in the country may now damage crops in Balochistan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said all possible measures would be taken to minimise the potential damage to the crops in Balochistan.

No stone should be left unturned to mitigate the impacts of the locust attack on crops, livelihoods of farmers and national food security,ö said the speaker at a meeting on NA sub-committee of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products here on Tuesday.

The major opposition parties, other day (Monday), strongly criticized PTIÆs government for not taking necessary measures to prevent locusts attack in Sindh. On it, the speaker assured to take up matter in the concerned parliamentary body. The matter was referred to the committee on a point of order raised by MNA Nawab Muhammad Yusuf Talpur.

The committee was informed that the current outbreak has resurfaced after 35 years. The Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Hashim Popalzai said that the outbreak could not be entirely eliminated; however, its intensity could be minimised through effective aerial and ground operations.

He said that the federal government was working in collaboration with provincial governments to reign in the locust attack. It was highlighted that pesticides worth Rs1 crore have been purchased and arrangements with the donors have been secured to shore up governmentÆs efforts. The committee was also briefed that the current attack of locusts was retreating to its habitats in Balochistan.

The members of the committee lauded the efforts of the ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) and stressed that the need for farmers and public awareness campaign to reduce the intensity of the outbreak. The members also underlined the need for drones and artificial intelligence based technological tools for anti-locust spray. The secretary stressed the need for early release of assured allocations under supplementary grants and provision of additional budget for the next year to effectively address the locust invasion. The members of the committee assured complete support to the Ministry of National Food Security in taking pre-emptive measures against the locusts attack.

The federal minster and secretary for the Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the sub-committee on the locust outbreak phenomenon, current level of efforts, availability of pesticides, funding, airplanes for aerial sprays and hurdles to holistically address the issue. The panel was informed that no substantial crop damage had been reported by the current outbreak.