The government of China has come to rescue its "all-weather friend" Pakistan, this time with its locust infestation problem by sending a rather unusual weapon--a duck army. China's Xi Jinping government is known to dispatch a 100,000-strong army of ducks to help Pakistan with the swarming locust infestation in the country, the AP reported on Friday.
The legion of lotus-eating waterfowl will be sent from the eastern province of China's Zhejiang following the earlier dispatch of a team of Chinese experts to Pakistan to advise on a response to the infestation that is being called the worst in 20 years, the Ningbo Evening News said. In a video shared by China's news organisation CGTN, a badling of ducks could be seen out in full force to prepare for the 'potential emergency.' China deployed ducks, whose natural diet includes insects, to fight a similar infestation in its northwestern region of Xinjiang two decades ago, reportedly with considerable effectiveness.
"Duck troops" gather at the border to face locust swarms pic.twitter.com/1J4r3dmmJk— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) February 19, 2020
Their use is both much less expensive and environmentally damaging than the use of pesticides, the paper quoted Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Agricultural Technology researcher Lu Lizhi as saying. Ducks are also more suited to the task than other poultry, such as chickens, Lu said. “Ducks like to stay in a group, so they’re easier to manage than chickens,” he said. A duck is also capable of eating more than 200 locusts per day, compared to just 70 for a chicken, Lu said. “They have three-times the combat capability,” he added.
Pakistan was invaded by the locust swarm in 2019, which proceeded to lay waste to the country's cotton crop and is now menacing the wheat harvest. The ducks will be sent to the worst affected provinces of the country including--Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan.
In 2000, China had shipped 30,000 ducks from its Zhejiang province to Xinjiang to tackle a similar issue. Swarms of locusts have spread out into East Africa and South Asia. The United Nations in January this year, called for international help to deal with locusts in East Africa.
(With agency inputs)