Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has urged the federal government to provide six aircraft to counter the locust attack on the standing crops in the province.
He said this on Wednesday while presiding over a meeting regarding controlling locust in Sindh.
The meeting was attended by Minister Agriculture Ismail Rahu, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, Secretary Agriculture Raheem Soomro, Brigadier Huzaifa of 5 Corps, DG PDMA Salman Shah, DG Agriculture Extension Hidayatullah, Director Department of Plant Protection Tariq Ali Khan and others.
The chief minister said that he had been receiving reports from the farmers that the locust swarms had again started attacking their crops. "This is a serious situation and must be addressed at the earliest. Otherwise food security issue would be inevitable," he said.
Minister for Agriculture Ismail Rahu said that initially Ghotki and Kashmore districts had been affected by locusts in April. Mostly, the desert areas of the province were under threat. The meeting was told that locust traveled from Balochistan into Sindh through Jacobabad, Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Jamshoro and some other districts. Adult locust swarms affected almost all of the districts of the province.
Locusts attacked Ghotki district in April where 18,829 acres of land were sprayed. A similar attack took place in Kashmore where 19,227 acres of land were sprayed.
Rahu said that the Nymphal population/hopper bands existed in desert areas of Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Khairpur, Sukkur and Ghotki from where they could move to the area of crops which was a serious threat.
He said that the Department of Plant Protection (DPP), a federal government department, also helped the agriculture department in control operation in districts of Ghotki, Kashmore and Khairpur.
The DPP covered an area of 18,871 acres. He added that agriculture extension teams treated in all districts up to 43,935 acres.
"In this way over 62,813 acres have been treated in 22 districts of the province," Rahu told the CM.
Secretary Agriculture Raheem Soomro said that that NDMA and DPP have provided safety kits for 28 teams to be used for control operation, deployed five teams along with spray vehicles, delivered 12 tractor mounted air blasts for cropping area. These air blasts have been given by the Chinese government. They have also reserved 124,000 liters of ULV pesticides at Mirpurkhas and Sukkur for desert area spray. The DPP has also imparted training to 50 agriculture field staff for handling the ULV sprayers.
The chief minister said that a letter had been written to the prime minister on May 1 with the request to provide six aircraft, ULV sprayers, pesticides, including ULV, and Lamba Cyhalothrin emulsified concentrate in sufficient quantity and deploy field teams. But, he said, no concrete steps were taken.
Only an old aircraft with one pilot was kept in Sukkur which had to cover Sindh and Balochistan.
He urged the federal government to send five more aircraft.
Brigadier Huzaifa told the meeting that the progressive move of Iranian locust population from Fars, Jask and Sistan towards Pakistan would take place by the end of May. He added that control operation would be intensified during the migration of locust to eliminate the threat.
According to him the drying down condition in Thar and Rajistan deserts, the locust adults were migrating towards the green belt of India. He said that it was expected that subsequent waves of locust swarms would settle in Thar for breeding purposes.
Giving a reference to the 2019 locust migration, Brig Huzaifa said they would likely move towards Balochistan, Punjab and KP by the end of May. Its threat during the current month was felt in Kashmore, Ghotki and Tando Allahyar where spray was conducted in time.
He said the locust threat was expected during June from Khuzdar towards Dadu, Naushehroferoze and Khairpur. From Lasbella to Thatta, Hyderabad, Badin and Mirpurkhas and then they would settle in Thar.
The chief minister directed the agriculture department, the PDMA, the NDPP and Corps 5 Brigadier to share day-to-day situation of the threat and operation so that loopholes could be mended on time.