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To tackle locust attack India proposes coordinated response; Iran agrees, Islamabad yet to respond

News Agencies | Updated on: 21 May 2020, 22:49 IST
locust attack

To deal with a common enemy, India has proposed a coordinated response to tackle Desert Locust along the border to Pakistan and also offered to facilitate the supply of insecticide Malathion to Islamabad for the same.

India has suggested to Pakistan that both countries should coordinate locust control operation along the border. India has also offered to supply pesticide Malathion to Iran to carry out Desert Locust control operations in its Sistan-Balochistan and South Khorasan provinces, the sources said.

While Tehran has responded positively to New Delhi's offer, Pakistan is yet to make up its mind. Sources said it "remains to be seen if Pakistan will rise above its narrow-minded approach."

The desert locust is a species of locust, a swarming short-horned grasshopper. They are known to devour everything in their path, posing an unprecedented threat to the food supply and livelihoods of millions of people.

As per the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports, in Iran, hopper bands of the Locust are maturing along the southwestern coastal plains, and another generation of breeding is underway in the southeast where hatching is taking place on the coast and in the interior of Sistan-Baluchistan.

In Pakistan, adult groups are migrating to the India border from breeding areas in Baluchistan where hopper groups are present as well as in Pakistan's Punjab and Pakistan occupied Kashmir's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In India, more adult groups and small swarms have arrived from Pakistan in the past weeks and moved east into Rajasthan, reaching Jodhpur.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare leads the efforts in locust control in the country. It also spearheads initiatives to foster regional cooperation. There is consensus that the Desert Locust could pose a grave challenge in 2020. The ministry has already started efforts in the matter.

"To further regional cooperation, India has proposed coordinated response to Desert Locust control to Iran and Pakistan. India has suggested to Pakistan that both countries coordinate locust control operation along the border and that India can facilitate supply of pesticide Malathion to Pakistan," the sources said.

"Iran has already responded positively to the Indian offer. It remains to be seen if Pakistan will rise above its narrow-minded approach, as was seen in the case of India's regional initiative for dealing with COVID-19, and come forward with cooperation on coordinated desert locust control operation with India," they added

With Pakistan, the sources said, there is an existing institutionalized mechanism for such cooperation including regular border meetings between the Locusts officers of the two countries. Wireless communication between Jodhpur and Karachi is also maintained every year from June to November for the exchange of locust information between the two countries.

"Six border meetings between the Locust officers led by Plant Protection Advisers of India and Pakistan are held every year (June to November) either at Munabao (India side) and or at Khokhropar (Pakistan side) for exchanging information on locust situation of both the countries," they added.

In addition, regional cooperation on locust control is driven by FAO. India participates in the meetings and sessions of the FAO's Desert Locust Control Committee, participates and organizes the meetings of FAO's Commission for Controlling Desert Locust in South West Asia; and participates in the Joint Survey Programmes with Pakistan and Iran organised by the FAO.


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First published: 21 May 2020, 22:49 IST