Recently, Pakistan has been very badly affected by the locust infestation. The southern part of Punjab with the north side of the Sindh and eastern part of Balochistan are the worst-affected. The locust that often attacks in south-east Asia migrates from Africa; there are almost 19 kinds of grasshoppers so far found in the world. and a locust grasshopper can eat 400 times more than its weight in a day. They always attack fertile land when the crops are ready to be cultivated. Throughout history, it has travelled with the wind even from Africa to Central America with the flow of the wind. These have ability to fly for many days. The conventional way to deal with this problem was to spray crops. But recently some non-conventional ways have been developed to encounter this problem as well. China has been affected by this plague several times in the past when a large group of locusts attacked Xinjian, a western province of China and affected a huge area. Chinese researchers have found a very unconventional way to counter this problem. A research centre has introduced a method to encounter the problem by breeding the ducks whose favourite food is locust grass hoppers. This experiment has already been successful in China.

A desert locust’s lifespan is about three to five months and but this mostly depends on the weather – how many eggs they lay is also determined by that. The eggs can mostly hatch in two weeks. The grasshopper can grow in 30 to 40 days starting from the time of hatching. Desert locust normally lay their eggs on a sandy surface. Some locusts travel to the north, even as far as to Europe from Africa and some travel to the Caribbean and South America . They have the ability to fly long distances across the ocean. Adults usually fly at night while locust swarms fly during the day time.

Locusts are also cultivated by farms in Shandong, in southwest China’s Yunnan province and northeast China’s Jilin province. Even so, locust plague management is very successful in China. Moreover, this locust is widely used as a food the world over. Some such dishes are very popular in some parts of Pakistan as well. The eastern province of China, Shandong has a lot of special dishes of this locust.

There are some traditional ways to control locust such as to apply garlic spray, natural predators and by the cultivation of long grass. During the plague, desert locusts have an ability to destroy one tenth of the world’s food if they are not countered in time. In the past, there are many examples of this kind of destruction, such as in 1926, 1934, 1940, 1948, 1949, 1963 and 1969. In these years, the locusts damaged crops badly and ultimately affected the economy. We need to plan for the future, both in conventional and non-conventional ways to encounter this problem. Pakistan has some agricultural universities but the fact of the matter is that we are lacking in research funds. Our private sector also needs to move with the government to arrange special funds so that we could have more research facilities for agriculture.