Pakistan successfully controlled locusts: food minister

Syed Fakhar Imam fears that Sindh will lose nearly 30% of cotton this year due to climate change implications


Our Correspondent October 09, 2020
Record numbers of locusts have descended in devastating swarms across parts of Africa and Asia this year. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam has announced that Pakistan remained successful in controlling locusts, saying that it would not have been possible without the dedicated work done by all the concerned stakeholders.

"The challenge of locust was no doubt enormous but it was met extraordinarily well with coordinated efforts of the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC), provincial governments, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and of course the villagers of the affected areas," the federal minister said while chairing a meeting at the NLCC on Friday.

The minister also commended the efforts of all stakeholders, including the leadership, common people and concerned international institutions such as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who played a vital role in controlling the locusts.

“Due to the timely deployment of equipment and other resources by the NDMA, the country managed to avoid any major loss.”

Imam said that about 63 districts of the country, including 10 each from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh and almost all districts of Balochistan, were affected by the locust attack and for the first time in 60 years, locust swarms entered the country from Afghanistan via the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas region and Dera Ismail Khan, which was unexpected.

Further, he said that it was also for the first time that locusts settled in cropped areas of Balochistan while usually, they used to settle in desert areas.

"Despite difficulties on the economic front, every Pakistani citizen, institutions and leadership played their due role in meeting the challenge, and this can be a case study about how locusts were controlled."

The minister also stressed the need for promoting an agriculture-based economy in the country, saying that the ministry was in constant touch with the provinces to formulate such policies that would help development of the sector.

He said that as per estimation, the Sindh province was going to lose nearly 30 per cent or 1.4 million bales of cotton this year due to climate change implication.

"Unfortunately, cotton has been extraordinarily badly hit this year mainly due to climate change implications," he said, adding that the cotton crop was also badly affected in other areas of the country but the Sindh province had been devastated at such a level that had never been seen in 100 years.

French investment

The federal minister for national food security and research on Friday welcomed the offer of the French companies to investment in the agriculture sector of Pakistan during a webinar organised by the largest business federation of France, MEDEF, in cooperation with the Embassy of Pakistan, Paris.

“Pakistan has huge potential in the field of agriculture and agri-products and the country welcomes French investment, technology and expertise, in a mutually beneficial way,” Imam said during the webinar on the agriculture sector of Pakistan in which 25 French companies participated.

In his introductory remarks, Total Global Services President Thierry Pfilmlin, who is also the president of Pakistan-France Business Council, introduced MEDEF as the largest employer federation in France which was established in 1998. It has more than 750,000 member firms, 90% of them being small and medium enterprises with fewer than 50 employees. Every year, MEDEF International organises a number of delegations of French business leaders with tangible projects to targeted countries, especially developing ones.

The participating French companies expressed keen interest in Pakistan’s agriculture sector and sought information on various sub-sectors, including dairy, animal husbandry, seed production, organic farming and forestation.

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