By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam has said the government has planned to spend 20 rupees billion in a year to combating locust attacks threats.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday, he said it was proposed for the budget that the federal government will spend Rs 9.7 billion and provincial governments will contribute Rs 10.2 billion to counter the locust.
Fakhar Imam said according to a latest report, the locust was present in all the 33 districts of Balochistan. The locust had also attacked Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Khanewal and many others districts, he added.
The Minister Food Security said that teams on the ground were sent out at night to spray and destroy locust when it rested. He said according to one day figures from Balochistan, ground operation against locust was carried out over 8500 hectares by teams and two helicopters were used for aerial spray of over 500 hectares.
The minister said new swarms of locust will enter Pakistan from Iran and Afghanistan in two weeks. The government will also keep a close watch on the locust when it will come from four countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti in the horn of Africa and enter Pakistan via Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran, he continued.
He said the federal and provincial governments, district administration and farmers were coordinating to tackle the locust attacks. The government was constantly working with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and getting surveillance data from it on a daily basis.
National Locust Control Center along with National Disaster Management Authority and district administrations were making effort to control the locust. About 8,000 army troops were deployed for the anti-locust operation.
China extended financial help of $4.9 million to Pakistan by giving it 53,000 liters of spray, sprayers and drones, he disclosed. Fakhar Imam said locust eat green leaves, chlorophyll and travel 90 miles per day.