ISLAMABAD           -        At least 20 micro-sprayers from the UK arrived in Pakistan yes­terday that will help immedi­ately to tackle the devastating desert locust swarms, the Brit­ish High Commission said yes­terday.

They are the first 20 of 50 sprayers as part of a UK aid package of £1m to support the government of Pakistan to tack­le the locust outbreak, which has been declared a national emer­gency, a BHC statement said.

The UK funding will ensure 50 sprayers - 20 of which have arrived - to be sent to control locusts and help to ensure food security.

The 1,300 PPE kits will help ensure surveillance and con­trol operations can contin­ue safely through the corona­virus pandemic, the BHC said. Some 18,000 vulnerable farmers are helped, the statement said.

The sprayers are from UK-based company, Micron Spray­ers Ltd. It has over 50 years of industry experience, and its products are used in over a hun­dred countries across the globe.

Underlining the close trading relationship between the UK and Pakistan, Micron Sprayers Ltd is also working on a sep­arate agreement to supply 83 sprayers to the National Disas­ter Management Authority in Pakistan. This agreement is not funded by the UK aid.

UK aid has given £1 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to tackle swarms of locusts until 30 September 2020, as part of our help sup­port food security in Pakistan.

Dr Christian Turner, Brit­ish High Commissioner to Pa­kistan, spoke at a ceremony to hand over the sprayers to the Pakistan Government to­day. He said: “Make no mistake, this locust outbreak is a big challenge. That is why the UK, through aid to FAO, has worked to ensure these UK-manufac­tured crop sprayers get to Pa­kistan as soon as possible,” the statement said.

The High Commissioner hand­ed over the UK sprayers at the ceremony here to Syed Fakhr Imam, Federal Secretary, Omar Hamid Khan from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research; and Mina Dowlatcha­hi, Country Representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Or­ganisation, alongside DFID Paki­stan Director Annabel Gerry.