Major locust swarms may reach Pak later this month

Pakistan is on the locust migratory route and has both summer and spring breeding areas.

Islamabad: Pakistan officials have warned that the next few weeks could be crucial in the fight against desert locust infestation with major swarms expected to reach the country later this month from the Horn of Africa.

On Thursday, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal, while briefing the diplomatic corps at the National Locust Control Centre (NLCC), said the locust problem is likely to peak in the next three to four weeks, Dawn news reported.

“Next eight weeks between July 15 and Sept 15 would be critical because of monsoon and the government’s ongoing commitment with anti-COVID-19 measures.”

Pakistan is on the locust migratory route and has both summer and spring breeding areas.

Therefore, it is particularly prone to locust attacks and has over the years suffered several outbreaks.

The latest episode here began in June last year following the start of climate change-induced international locust crisis in 2018 from the southern Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter bordering Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

This year was expected to be the worst for Pakistan in 27 years because of longer than usual monsoon in 2019 and more rain towards its end due to Indian Ocean Dipole – a sea warming phenomenon, said the Dawn news report.

Therefore, because of favourable conditions three generations of breeding occurred. The capacity to deal with the emerging problem too was very low last year.

Meanwhile, the continuing surge in locust numbers in Horn of Africa, Yemen and other countries in the region posed a serious threat of invasion.

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