In a cabinet meeting under the leadership of the Prime Minister (PM), Imran Khan on Friday, January 31, 2020, Pakistan declared a national emergency over the worst locust swarms. As the insects’ attacks have severely affected nationwide, the cabinet has decided to implement several measures to curb the existing threats and approved a National Action Plan (NAP). The present situation of destroying crops due to locust attack was worse than the one Pakistan faced in 1993.
Cabinet Declared National Emergency
Pakistan, which is currently under the decade’s worst threat of locust attack, has approved a national plan to curb the threat by declaring a national emergency in the country. Friday’s cabinet meeting convened by the Pakistan PM was attended by federal ministers and senior officials of the four provinces.
Punjab province of Pakistan, which is the country’s key region for agricultural production, had been badly affected, due to which the cabinet ministers approved a sum of ₹7.3 billion as a part of NAP to tackle the crop crisis.
As per the Dawn newspaper, Pakistan’s Minister for National Food Security, Khusro Bakhtiar has spoken in the National Assembly regarding the alarming situation and put forward measures for the federal and provincial governments to handle the food crisis.
As per a source, a detailed briefing was presented to the PM by the adviser to the PM’s office, Hafeez Shaikh. In the meeting, different tasks were assigned to government officials at the provincial and district levels as per the direction of the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Citing the need for urgent measures against the locust swarms on the ripened crops, PM ordered to form a high-level committee to be headed by the Food Security minister, Bakhtiar to take up an extensive policy for addressing the present crisis.
Worst Locust Attack in Decades
The Dawn reported, Nawab Yousuf Talpur of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) recalled that the government had handled the 1993 situation of crop crisis by locust attack in four days with limited resources. As per some analysts, the present crop crisis would persist longer and would require a huge amount to tackle it.
Claiming an estimated budget around ₹7.3 billion for crop recovery measures, Bakhtiar asserted, it was for the first time in Pakistan that the locust had reached Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after damaging the crops in two regions, Sindh and Punjab.
Bakhtiar has highlighted a key reason that the occurrence of such insect attacks was due to issues of climate change. Anticipated a longer stay of the locust swarms, the Pakistan leader stated that locusts usually moved to Iran after some days but this time, these insects would be lingering on in the country due to low temperatures.
He further explained in the meeting, “The swarms of locust are currently on the Pakistan-India border along Cholistan” adding that insects passed through Cholistan and Nara from Sindh and Balochistan. However, he claimed that the government had managed to save cotton and winter crops to a large extent.
The PM, Khan elaborated, “Declaration of national emergency was imminent to handle the situation; besides, Parliament must have a role in monitoring the situation.” He further added, “Protection of farms and farmers is the highest priority of the government. Therefore, the federal government should take all necessary steps to save national crops and provide the required resources to the quarters concerned.”
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