Locust threat

One hopes the minister’s allegations are not part of the ongoing war of words between the Centre and Sindh

Editorial April 15, 2020

Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahoo has been warning for the past several months of the likely havoc that locusts could play with agriculture in the province. At a recent press conference, the minister accused the Centre of failing to assist the provincial government in combating the locust plague in Sindh, and warned that delay in aerial spray might result in a famine-like situation. He said locust eggs were believed to have spread on an area of 2.5 million acres in the desert region of the province, but the Sindh government was spraying insecticide on only 18,000 acres. In view of this situation, he asked the Plant Protection Department (PPD) — which comes under the federal government’s jurisdiction — to launch a coordinated operation against the locust menace in the province without any further delay.

Rains in the desert region are known to result in an exponential growth of locusts. The minister said the provincial government was trying to hire aircraft to spray insecticides on 25,000 acres, mainly in desert areas. He claimed that the PPD had a fleet of several aircraft but it had not provided any aircraft to the provincial government to help with the anti-locust operation. He said China had provided 25,000 litres of insecticides to the federal government, and claimed that nothing out of it had been supplied to Sindh. He disclosed that the Sindh government had released Rs330 million for the locust control programme last year, but the relevant department had spent only Rs181 million.

The failure of the Sindh agriculture department to spend the allocated amount and the delay by the Centre in providing a helping hand show inefficiency at both levels and the laid-back attitude of the officialdom. One hopes the minister’s allegations are not part of the ongoing war of words between the Centre and Sindh.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2020.

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