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Controlling Desert Locust Outbreak in Pakistan

25/09/2019

The fourth Indo-Pak Desert Locust Border Meeting of the year 2019 was held between the locust officers of Pakistan and India with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to contain locust outbreak. This meeting followed the recommendations of the FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia (SWAC). The current Desert Locust situation that developed from exceptional breeding during the past spring in Iran and Pakistan is serious and requires careful monitoring and control.

The objective of the meeting was to exchange locust-related data and information and to provide recommendations on procedures to control the outbreak in both countries, through a better coordinated approach. Technical issues relating to ongoing locust survey and control operations were also discussed. Both countries said they faced the same difficulties such as insufficient trained personnel, equipment shortages, rough terrain, public awareness, farmer’s pressure.

Each year, six meetings are held from October to December to discuss climate change driven locust infestation. This is a vital contribution to the FAO’s global Desert Locust early warning system.

Director (Technical) Department of Plant Protection (DPP) Mr. Tariq Khan said that a total of 62,490 hectares area in Balochistan, Tharparkar, Nara and Cholistan deserts had been effectively controlled through ground and aerial operations by applying ULV Pesticides.  He further stated that the DPP has a buffer stock of ULV Pesticides which is moved to all Locust outposts as per the need of control operations. The funding to control the outbreak is being provided by the Government of Pakistan keeping in view the importance of agriculture in the affected areas.

The meeting was also attended by Plant Protection Advisor and Director General Dr. Falak Naz, Assistant Entomologist (Locust) Muhammad Hussain Dar and Assistant Entomologist (Locust) Muhammad Shahbaz from Pakistan.
Executive Secretary (SWAC) FAO, Mr. Keith Cressman said that the border area of both the countries is a single natural habitat of locust and is a summer breeding area. The cooperation of both the countries is needed to help contain the locust threat.

Desert locust surveys point towards presence of immature/mature solitarious and gregarious locust groups/ swarms and solitarious/gregarious hoppers in south of Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan in Cholistan Desert, Thari Mirwah in Nara Desert, east of Khipro and Nangarparkar in Tharparkar Desert. The situation should start to improve next month as breeding declines and second-generation adult groups and small swarms move to spring areas in Balochistan province in Pakistan and in Iran where they should remain immature and be good control targets until early spring; the scale of the migration depends on the success of current surveys and planned control operations; the heaviest migration is likely to be during November.

“The Joint Border Meetings have continued uninterrupted every month since 2005. FAO plays a very unique and critical role in facilitating this interaction through the SWAC for the control of Desert Locust,” says FAO Representative of Pakistan, Ms. Mina Dowlatchahi.

For media inquiries, please contact Mehr Hassan, Communications Specialist, FAO Pakistan at mehr.hassan@fao.org

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