Balochistan: Crops in 31 districts damaged by locusts

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According to officials of the provincial agriculture department, crops standing over thousands of acres in Nushki, Kharan, Washuk, Panjgur, Kech, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Mastung, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Dera Bugti, Sibi and several other areas have been destroyed by the locusts, Dawn reoprted.

According to details, the National Disaster Management Au­­t­­h­­ority (NDMA) had warned that massive swarms enter Bal­ochistan from Oman and Iran in a few days.

“Locust attacks have damaged standing crops on more than 9,269 hectares causing a loss of Rs1,492 million so far,” a senior officer of the agriculture department said. The agriculture department had distributed knapsack, spray pumps and pesticides worth Rs3.93m, he added.

UN organisation has warned of a possible loss Rs451Bn.

Local farmers believe that the pace of anti-locust spray is very slow, while they are cooperating with the agriculture department.

“It is a disaster and it cannot be countered with a couple of old vehicles and poor spray techniques being adopted by the provincial government,” said Shahbaz Khan, a farmer based in Nushki.

He said a few officials of the agriculture department had been tasked to carry out sprays with the help of only two vehicles.

The United Nations Food and Agricul­ture Organisation has warned of a possible loss of Rs393 billion to the country due to locust attacks and said it might increase to Rs451bn in summer. It has also warned that following the locust attacks serious food insecurity might take place.

An official of the agriculture department said his department lacked proper equipment and resources to take effective measures to curb locust attacks.

Locust attacks on crops is not uncommon in Balochistan. Every year farmers face a huge loss which makes their lives miserable as a big number of inhabitants rely on agriculture but they are deprived of new methods, equipment and support from government.

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