ISLAMABAD: China on Tuesday said it is considering aerial and pesticide support to help combat a locust swarm in Pakistan as the food ministry raised alarm over urgent mitigation requirements, reported The News.
Chinese ambassador Yao Jing said his government was considering supplying pesticides and spraying equipment to Pakistan as an emergency project.
“The Chinese side will send a delegation of technical experts next week to Pakistan to further deliberate on aerial management of locust,” Yao said. “The delegation will also visit locust-affected areas.”
The ambassador offered the assistance during a meeting with Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar.
The Chinese envoy added that Beijing was interested in increasing import of agricultural products from Pakistan, including onion, potato and meat.
“China wants to ease out the export of these products before the high-level visit expected in May 2020,” he said.
Bakhtiar apprised the ambassador about the requirement of pesticides and aerial support to control the locust swarm in Pakistan, particularly Sindh and Balochistan. The participants of the meeting were informed about the current situation of affected areas and how the locust is spreading there.
The minister also underlined the importance of the measures taken by neighbouring countries to control locust swarms. Bakhtiar informed the ambassador about the requirement of aerial support from China to curtail the reproduction of locusts in vulnerable areas.
He underscored the urgent need of aerial support with pesticides for aerial spray to contain the locusts in the desert area.
The locust swarm assumed grave proportions across the country, with the crop-destructive insects posing a serious threat to production of agriculture sector, which contributes around 20 per cent of the GDP.
Agriculture growth had sharply decelerated to 0.8 per cent during the last fiscal year in contrast to 3.9 per cent a year earlier.
Bakhtiar acknowledged the pro-activeness of China in supporting Pakistan over the locust swarm issue. “It shows the strength of the Pak-China relationship,” he said, hailing the Chinese interest in the import of agricultural products.
Earlier this week, United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation also vowed support to help the country map out locust-infected areas and extend technical cooperation in controlling the menace.
Pakistan, India come together to fight locusts
In a report published in The Times of India earlier this week, Pakistan and India were said to have held five meetings in the past few months in a bid to deal with the deadly desert locust.
The coordination will continue as a locust attack of greater magnitude is forecast from June 2020 onward compared to that observed in 2019, when farmers of certain districts of Rajasthan and Gujrat had to contend with severe damage to their crops, the publication claimed.
The short-horned grasshopper had targetted both India and Pakistan, attacking the standing winter (rabi) crop before being finally controlled by January. Five meetings between the two countries were held at Munabao in India and Khokhrapar in Pakistan during June-December last year to exchange information on tackling the menace.