No locust-eating ducks coming to Pakistan from China: official
Statesman Report
KARACHI: Officials in Pakistan rubbished reports China was sending in an army of ducks to help the country stave off a locust infestation, days after reports of a frontline flock first emerged in local and international media.
Last week, the Chinese government announced it was sending a team of experts to Pakistan to develop “targeted programs” against the locusts after Islamabad declared an emergency in February. Shortly afterwards, it was widely reported the experts would be followed by 100,000 locust-hungry ducks to save the day.
“It is not viable and not even part of our discussions with Chinese experts. It is not possible and practical in Pakistan,” Muhammad Tariq Khan, Director of Plant Protection at the Department of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, told Arab News.
Experts, part of the Chinese team in Pakistan to oversee the locust situation, have said ducks-- occasionally used in China against locusts-- are simply not an effective weapon considering Pakistan’s climate and topographical conditions.
“In the history of China’s fight against locusts, they used ducks to eat the locusts. However, it is not effective [in Pakistan] because ducks are water relying animals. According to our visit to the desert areas, the temperature there is very high and duck method is not suitable. Even in China the effectiveness of this method is dependent on certain conditions,” Wang Fengle, who is leading the Chinese expert team on locust control, told Arab News.
“There are limitations for the ducks to play their role in locust control operation. This is not included in our assistance plan and not pragmatic,” he added.
Fengle’s team, which is scheduled to visit affected areas of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab will formulate a plan to deal with the locust invasion which is posing a grave risk to the country’s food security.
“The only way [to deal with locusts in Pakistan] is to select right chemical pesticides or use biological pesticides like fungus that can be spread by aircraft,” Fengle further said.
Meanwhile, farmers at the frontlines of the locust invasion say modern technology, which includes the use of drones, is the need of the hour to combat the outbreak.
“The traditional spray with hand pumps is no more effective and now drone technology must be employed to deal with the locust outbreak,” Nisar Khaskheli, President of the Khairpur chapter of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, told Arab News.
Pakistani authorities estimate that locust attacks have damaged around 80,000 hectares of crop and pastures in Sindh and Baluchistan and have also invaded areas of Dera Ismail Khan.