The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAP) report on the worsening of the desert locust problem in Pakistan should ring alarm bells for the government, as it threatens to seriously affect wheat crops in the coming season. Untimely rains and changing weather patterns have resulted in excessive locust breeding and infestation in 2019 as well. It is important to plan effectively to prevent a disaster. Despite agriculture being such a crucial sector of Pakistan’s economy, as it employs the largest portion of the population and directly affects food security, there is a dearth of interest in pesticide research and climate change mitigation strategies. The pesticides that have been traditionally available are now becoming increasingly ineffective owing to overuse causing development of resistance in pests.

As far as climate change goes, Pakistan is certainly not the only country grappling with the phenomenon. It would be beneficial to see how other governments are dealing with the problem. International cooperation and indigenous research will also enable the government to identify the limitations of its current approach and create a better mechanism that is relevant and effective. No strategy can be deemed complete without the inclusion of farmers in a participatory role. They need to be brought into the loop to discuss how they can mitigate the damage that the locust outbreak can cause. Agricultural practice has evolved substantially across the world. Modern techniques not only increase yields, but also secure crops against threats of climate and pests. They also incorporate efficient use of water, which is essential for a country like Pakistan.

The government should be proactive to avoid possible wheat shortage resulting from a locust outbreak and prevent domestic shortage. The agricultural industry in Pakistan remains highly underutilised. With proper attention and robust planning, the sector can play a significant role towards reviving the economy.