KARACHI: Aggrieved by the Centre's "inaction" over impending locust attacks, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah urged the federal government on Wednesday to equip the province locust-combat teams with five more aircraft for aerial spraying.
Presiding over a meeting called to review the strategy for controlling locusts, the CM observed that the insects had begun attacking standing crops in Sindh, raising alarm that if not addressed immediately, the problem would pose a threat to food security.
He maintained that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 1, seeking the provision of six aircraft, ultra-low volume (ULV) sprayers, pesticides and lambda cyhalothrin emulsified concentrate in sufficient quantities, besides human resources in the form of field teams.
"He [the PM] has taken no concrete steps [to fulfill the request]," the CM expressed regret, saying that just an old aircraft and a pilot had been deployed for combatting locusts in Sindh and Balochistan.
He urged the federal government to provide five more aircraft and pesticides and deploy more teams for locust control in the province before the harvest of Kharif crops.
Meanwhile, Sindh Agriculture Minister Muhammad Ismail Rahoo informed the CM that desert areas were under threat by locusts.
"Locust swarms had earlier descended in Ghotki and Kashmore in April, following which aerial spraying was carried out over 18,829 and 19,227 acres of land in both districts, respectively," he said, adding that hopper bands were now present in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Khairpur, Sukkur and Ghotki.
"They can move to crop areas as well, which will be problematic," he cautioned.
He said that the agriculture department had, thus far, carried out action against locust over 62,813 acres of land in 22 districts of Sindh, with the help of the plant protection department (DPP).
The minister informed the CM that the agriculture department was now carrying out a survey and control operation in other areas.
According to Sindh agriculture sector Raheem Soomro, the National Disaster Management Authority and the DPP had also provided the province safety kits for 28 field teams, besides other assistance.
Drawing the meeting to a close, the CM directed the agriculture department, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, DPP and others for daily updates on the situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2020.
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