ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is likely to import insecticides from arch-rival India to brace itself for any locust attacks this summer, bypassing a ban on trade between the neighbouring nations.
A copy of Cabinet agenda for a Tuesday meeting seen by Reuters has the import option on it.
Pakistan severed all diplomatic and trade ties with New Delhi in August after India revoked the special status of Kashmir, a disputed territory between the two rivals, who have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region.
“Yes definitely, there is a fear of locust attack in June- July, this is the reason we are planning and preparing in advance,” Dr Falak Naz, Director General Department of Plant Protection, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, told Reuters.
China, currently battling the coronavirus outbreak, is the other place from where Pakistan can import the insecticides.
Pakistan declared a national emergency over locust swarms early this month after the food ministry gave a briefing to parliament, warning that the country was facing the worst locust infestation in two decades.
Desert locusts, large herbivores which resemble grasshoppers, are said to have arrived in Pakistan from Iran, and have already damaged maze, cotton, wheat and other crops.
Khusro Bakhtiar, the national food security minister, quoted by local English language newspaper The Express Tribune, said in the briefing that the locust swarm was currently on the Pakistan-India border.
“Action has been taken against the insect over 0.3 million acres (121,400 hectares) and aerial spray was done on 20,000 hectares,” he said.
Swarms of desert locusts have invaded eastern Africa, ravaging crops, decimating pasture and deepening a hunger crisis. United Nations says hundreds of millions of the insects have swept over the Horn of Africa in the worst outbreak in a quarter of a century.