As if the economic repercussions of COVID-19 weren’t enough, a locust invasion endangered the agricultural output of Pakistan, causing crop destruction and threatening national food security. Fortunately, timely action by authorities like the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) and Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) allowed for the government to minimise damages and establish a plan of action if the predicament ever presented itself again in the future.

The first wave of migratory locusts in Pakistan came at the expense of the dominant agricultural sector—losing $3.72 billion in total according to the UN. This primary industry constitutes 18.9 percent of the GDP and employs 42.3 percent of the labour force; therefore, the loss incurred cannot be undermined. Consequently, the government diligently cleared out 1.1 million hectares of land within 6 months and coupled with the Pakistan Army to carry out thorough surveys in various districts in order to gauge the magnitude of the problem. Moreover, with a budget of Rs26 billion, and the help of Beaver Aircraft, even aerial control operations have been carried out against this injurious outbreak. Such a comprehensive approach is one that needs to be extended given that two more waves, from Iran and the Horn of Africa, are being expected to wreak havoc across the nation.

While chemical pesticides are still being used as the first line of defence, their adverse health impacts are encouraging the proposition of more innovative solutions. Nifty ideas like the incorporation of the insects into chicken feed, composting them or grinding them into fertilisers and the use of noise-makers to prevent them from settling down in fields have been suggested. Such thinking is one that will not only protect us from the impact of the locust invasion but will provide an opportunity to benefit the country as more locusts make their way into the nation. If things keep going the way that they are, for once, we might be ahead of the problem.