Locust attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa contained, crops prevented from damage: Official
PESHAWAR: Locust attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been contained effectively and crops are protected from damage by swarms of pest entering the bordering areas of D.I.Khan and Tank districts of KP with Punjab province.
This was said by Dr. Naveed Khan, Deputy Director Department of Plant Protection while talking with APP from Emergency Control Cell set up in D.I.Khan after attack by the pest.
It merits a mention here that swarms of locust have started entering KP after wreaking damage in Baluchistan, Sindh and Punjab provinces.
To tackle locust infestation, the Relief, Rehabilitation and Settlement Department of KP had declared emergency on January 30 in nine districts of the province.
Dr. Naveed said the strategy of targeting potential pockets of locust swarms prove successful in containing the attack by causing huge mortality to the attacking pest.
He said it was also fortunate that the locust swarms entering KP consists of majority of immature adults which are not fit for breeding at this stage.
The situation would have aggravated severely if the pest had laid eggs, doubling many times the number of arriving locust, he went on to say.
Furthermore, Dr. Naveed continued, the strategy of spraying locust was also very effective because the pest was targeted with pesticide spray during midnight when its ability to fly is zero and is lying dormant.
In day time, the pest is very active and can not be targeted due to its ability to fly very fast with a speed of covering around 150 km distance in a single day.
Dr. Naveed also claimed that no damage to crops has been reported in areas of attack by locust in KP.
About the locations of pest attack, he said these were few hamlets in bordering areas with Punjab as the locust after travelling from Sindh to Punjab was heading towards KP.
In response to a question about climate change as reason behind arrival of locust in Pakistan, Dr. Naveed replied in negation.
He said this pest is mostly found in Arabian countries and due to war-like situation in Syria, Yemen and Iraq proper measures were not taken there for its control and as a result the pest survived had migrated to Iran and then entered into Pakistan from Baluchistan province.
He said the Agriculture department is fully active to counter the attack of the pest while Plant Protection Department has moved all its pesticide stock to the affected area to stop locust from moving ahead.
Emergency Control Room has been set up in D.I.Khan while entomologists from Research cell of Agriculture department have also been called to identify hatching locations and for destruction of eggs.
The agriculture department has also spread its informers in affected areas who meet with local people to get information about nature of attack by the pest in those areas. “Where we get report of presence of pest in large number, that area is targeted and attacked by spraying pesticide.”
When asked about spraying procedure, he said it is being carried out manually by using barrow-mounted machines.
Aerial spray option is adopted because of nature of the locations where local population and livestock can also be damaged through reactions of pesticides, he added. – APP