MULTAN-Federal minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Iman said Prime Minister has handed a task to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to eliminate locusts across the country after declaring national emergency against it.

While talking to media persons after giving away Eidi among children of Child Protection and Welfare Bureau here on Wednesday, he termed locust as another pandemic, which had entered in the country in March 2019 and people were facing the situation bravely.

He said currently over 90,000 army officials were deputed to protect crops through fumigation campaign against locust attack on farmlands.

He said locusts had hit the country after twenty seven years after arriving from East Africa. It travelled about 170 kilometers distance every day and single locust gave births to about 200 children.

He said it happened for first time that it stayed here and did not go back. Most of locusts had brought up in warm areas of Balochistan and Thal, he maintained.

Referring help being extended by Pakistan’s trustworthy friend, Fakhar Imam said China had sent a ten-member delegation here to hold consultation for eliminating ‘the pandemic’ from the country.

Later, he said, it had given 332,000 liter chemical which was being sprayed at affected places of late.

He said currently the government was offering incentive package to farmers having twelve and half acres agricultural land.

He said wheat purchasing target being set in past year was about Rs. 4.2 million ton and got doubled this year.

Fakhar Iman said the Prime Minister had declared national emergency in January in the wake of locusts’ attack, with action initiated against it under National Action Plan. He said agriculture department, deputy commissioners of districts and officials of Pak Army were confronting locusts with maximum effort. He said incumbent government was trying to help out farmers to lessen their losses surfacing in current situation.

He said plant protection unit of Agricultural department had 20 planes in 1990 to hold anti-septic spray on crops. Unfortunately it had reduced to two planes, with one of them crashed, leaving only one with the unit. So, they were arranging five more planes to combat locusts, he said. They are run short of locust-dealing experts as well.

He said Punjab province had already purchased 4,000,000 ton wheat from growers. Punjab had achieved 90 percent target while Sindh secured 83 percent target following this, he remarked.

PASCO had purchased 1.2 lac metric ton wheat against fixed target of 1.8 metric ton. He said government was vying hard to contain wheat smuggling to maintain price and quantity of the basic food ingredient in the country.

The minister also heaped praise on Pakistanis for battling corona pandemic through acting upon recommended SOPs in letter and spirit. Replying to a question, he said the whole world showed concerns about emerging India-China conflict over Ladakh and must be proactive to resolve the issue. He condemned Indian atrocities being committed at large scale in Indian held Kashmir.

He said examples of manhandling reported in Kashmir valley could have been witnessed hardly anywhere across the globe.