Pakistan all set to counter impending locust invasion: FAO official

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 (APP):Pakistan is well prepared to combat an impending attack of crop-eating locust from breeding grounds in southern Iran, even as the South Asian country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, a senior official of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN agency, said Wednesday.

Speaking to United Nations (UN) correspondents in New York via video-link from Rome, Keith Cressman, FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, called the current desert locust outbreak as the worst in decades for countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan and India, saying the agency was doing all it can to help these countries control this menace that threatens their food security.

Responding to a question from APP specifically about the operations in Pakistan, Cressman noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already declared a national emergency to meet the challenge.

Since then, he said, Pakistan has been very actively working to get ready for action.

In this regard, he said, the government has been training all their personnel, recruiting additional hands, procuring stocks of pesticides, vehicles and aircraft. Also, Pakistanis are ready, if need be, to quickly upscale their operations.

He said unlike Kenya, Pakistan also has some experience of dealing with locust swarms in the past and they have systems in place.

Cressman expressed satisfaction over the response to FAO’s international appeal for funds that has already brought in US $ 158 million. In addition, he said, the World Bank has made a generous contribution that would help boost the agency’s efforts to help the affected countries.