PHOTOS: REUTERS / FILE
HYDERABAD: After the locust attack, the Sindh Agricultural Chamber (SCA) has asked the government to immediately air spray using at least 10 aircraft in the province.
In a speech at a press conference in Hyderabad, SCA president Syed Miran Muhammad Shah regretted the government’s apathy on the issue, saying that his inaction had caused grasshoppers to damage crops in nine of the 23 agricultural districts.
“A much larger flock is on its way from Iran but we do not see any valuable steps being taken to contain the flock,” Shah deplored. He argues that if uncontrolled, grasshoppers could cause a loss of Rs600 billion for Pakistan’s agricultural economy.
Citing statistics released by the Food and Agriculture Organization, Shah said 38 percent of the country’s plants, including wheat, cotton, mangoes and flowers, were eaten by grasshoppers.
He recalled that when grasshoppers attacked the country last year, after a long lapse of about three decades, the SCA urged the federal government to spray the air. “But only one aircraft is provided [for the purpose]”And that, too, fell while spraying in Sadiqabad, Punjab,” he added.
Shah also recalled that before this year’s locust attack, he had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, drawing his attention to the threat and asking for air spraying to take place.
“We also met Sindh government officials and Sindh Agriculture Minister, Muhammad Ismail Rahoo several times between March and early May, asking them to use their own financial resources for air spraying, but to no avail,” he complained, adding that the food security wing of The center is. also approached to help but in vain.
Shah stressed that the main responsibility for dealing with the threat of locusts lay with the federal government.
The SCA demands that 10 planes be immediately arranged for air spraying, with six of them stationed in the district near the Sindh-Balochistan border. Two of them must be used for spraying in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Nawabshah and Khairpur districts and two in the Hyderabad division, Shah said.
“Even drone technology can be used for targeted spraying, in addition to spraying on land,” Shah said.
According to the SCA, Malir, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Khairpur, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Nawabshah, Ghotki, Sukkur and Dadu are currently most affected by locust attacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2020.
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