ISLAMABAD - Minister for National Food Security & Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan Sunday visited Locust affected area of Thari Mirwah, Khairpur.

A press release issued here said an aircraft has been deployed at Sukkur airport for possible emergency aerial spraying in Nara desert for controlling any outbreak.

The minister said government was doing all possible efforts to control the looming menace of locust.

Through the efforts of Ministry of Food Security and Department of Plant Protection four successful sprays have been administered in Balochistan.

“Now we are channeling our efforts towards affected areas in Sindh,” he added.

Initially the immature Desert Locust swarms invaded Arabian Peninsula migrated from the Red Sea coast of Sudan and Eritrea in January, 2019.

Saudi Arabia quickly launched a control operation but the undetected and un-controlled gregarious locust adults moved towards I.R. Iran in February, 2019, where the ecological conditions were favorable for locust breeding, vegetation was green and soil moisture was wet due to heavy rainfall. Therefore mature desert locust laid eggs.

Due to the reason, the locust numbers rapidly increased in Iran. Immediately control campaign was started in Iran and approximately 400,000 hectares area have been treated in Iran so far.

Despite a massive control operation in Iran, few un-controlled and un-detected locust swarms migrated in Balochistan-Pakistan during March, 2019. The ecological condition was also conducive in Balochistan due to rainfall, therefore locust laid eggs and resultantly hatching was started.

The DPP immediately moved ground control teams with survey and exhaust fitted spray vehicles along with pesticides and started control operation in Pasni, Gwadar, Turbat, Uthal, Kharan and Dalbandin areas. An area of 7,470 hectares has successfully been controlled in Balochistan since March, 2019.

As the winter-spring breeding season is going to an end, vegetation and soil moisture have started to become dry in Balochistan therefore some groups of gregarious locust have started to move towards not only Tharparkar and Nara deserts of Sindh and Cholistan desert of Punjab but also in Rajasthan desert of India in search of vegetation.

DPP immediately moved a locust survey and control team to Khairpur desert on the direction of Federal Minister Mehboob Sultan soon after the locust reports were received. Ground control team has treated about 800 hectares area in Tehsil Thari Mirwah of Khairpur. Ground team is still working in the area.

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research through the department of DPP in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has devised a comprehensive advisory for the survey and control operations in the month of June particularly before the commencement of monsoon precipitations. Moreover, the Department has activated all resources to meet General Operating Expenditures (GOE) of survey and control operations in a very vast locust affected area of the country.

Federal Minister further said that a comprehensive training will be organized for field staff of the Department on Desert Locust biology, survey and control techniques.

The Department has a sufficient stock of pesticide. However, more pesticides are being procured to tackle this menace effectively.

Moreover Additional eLocust3 units will be provided to the survey and control teams for transmitting the real time and accurate data from the field to FAO Headquarters, Rome, so that Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS), Rome could be able to make better forecast about desert locust activities.