Insecticides, machinery sent to tehsils to fight possible locust attack

MULTAN - Government has sent insecticides and machinery in sufficient quantity at tehsil level in districts of Punjab where locusts might attack crops possibly in October-November, officials said on Wednesday.

A senior official of agriculture department told media that locust attack was expected from October end to November and agriculture department was ready to save country’s agriculture riches in the province by ensuring full preparedness.

Earlier in April-May 2020, locusts swarms had caused sizable loss worth millions to farmers on vast tracts of crop land in the country. Most affected districts included Khushab, 18-Hazari, Khanewal, Rajanpur, DG Khan, Muzaffargarh, Ahmad Pur East, and Bahawalnagar.

Agriculture department with the support from Pakistan Army had then launched combined operations, controlling 50 per cent of the danger by manual spray and rest by spray from helicopters and planes. A big swarm of locusts that was fifteen kilometres long and 10 km wide was also eliminated.

Agriculture department was focusing on border areas near Bahawalnagar and Balochistan and was ready to counter as and when the locusts arrive, the official said.

He recalled that almost 200,000 liters of insecticides were sprayed during April-May 2020 locust attack and around 100,000 liters of insecticides had been arranged to counter locust attack expected from October end.

Official said that locusts had to be eliminated through timely operations otherwise their swarms could swell to unbelievable proportions.

He explained that a locust pest laid hundreds of eggs that got hatched in just three days and the newborns became ready to lay more eggs in only next 48 hours.

A plane of federal plant protection department had crashed few months ago in Rahim Yar Khan during spraying insecticides to kill locusts and a pilot and an engineer had lost their lives in the operation. An official said that more planes were available but not in a perfect condition to be utilised.

Senior officials of agriculture department said that locusts stood eliminated as of today, however, added their preparations for any new locust attack were already finalised to save crops.