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Pakistan

Can chickens help Pakistan fight off locust attacks

An innovative pilot project has been launched in Okara under which farmers catch locusts and earn money in return.
30 May 2020
  • An innovative pilot project has been launched in Okara under which farmers catch locusts and earn money in return.
  • These caught insects are then transformed into high-protein chicken feed by feed mills.

Already battered by the coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan is facing another imminent threat in form of locusts, as swarms of this crop-eating insect have wreaked havoc on the croplands creating a food security challenge for both Pakistan and its neighbors.

However, as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) the country’s frontline institution fighting of this threat is conducting surveys and spraying cropland, chickens could provide an out of the box yet a simple solution to this grave threat.

As per The Third Pole.net, an innovative pilot project has been launched in Okara under which farmers catch locusts and earn money in return, these caught insects are then converted into high-protein chicken feed by feed mills.

The brains behind this idea were Muhammad Khurshid, a civil servant in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, and Johar Ali, a biotechnologist from the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council.

“We were mocked for doing this – no one thought that people could actually catch locusts and sell them,” says Ali. Khurshid informed that he was inspired by a similar practice made in Yemen last year.

The program with its slogan “Catch locusts. Earn money. Save crops”, offers farmers Rs20 for catching one kilogram of locusts, which is then sold to chicken feed owners.

The report said that farmers made over Rs20,000 per person for one night’s work. “We did not even have to provide them with bags, they brought their own on their motorbikes. All we did was to weigh the bags and check that they were indeed full of locusts, and then pay them for their efforts,” said Ali.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has constituted 1,127 teams to conduct locust control operations in effects districts of the country.

According to the spokesman, the NDMA has completed the poisonous fumes spray of over 4,200 hectares and a survey of 290,000-hectare locust swarm hit areas of the country in the last 24 hours. Sharing details of the ongoing efforts to kill locust swarms, he said the spraying of 1,500-hectare area of Balochistan and 8,00-hectare area of Punjab have been completed in the last 24 hours.