When the world is struggling to fight against coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan is embattled with another crisis due to swarm of locusts. According to a Bloomberg report, farmers in the village of Pakistan's vast and arid Balochistan province have lost crops worth hundreds of thousands of rupees. Farmers are worried that their children will starve if the thousands of eggs waiting to hatch destroy the crops.
A delegation from China visited Pakistan in late February after the Islamabad sought help from Beijing to wipe out the insects. After China agreed to provide spraying equipment and 300 tons of pesticides, Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement that Chinese technicians will train Pakistani plant protection staff to use the equipment.
In February, Somalia declared a state of emergency due to the locust invasion and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization described the situation as worst in the last 25 years. FAO has warned that the rising numbers of Desert Locusts present an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa.
FAO said that the situation could worsen with new breeding that will produce more locust infestations in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. "Locust swarms have started laying eggs and another generation of breeding will increase locust numbers. Urgent efforts must be made to stop them from increasing to protect the livelihoods of farmers and livestock holders," Keith Cressman, Senior Locust Forecasting Officer at FAO, said in a statement.
The UN agency had said that it requires $70 million, of which they had mobilised $15.5 million till January 30, to support rapid control operations and measures to protect livelihoods and prevent deterioration of the food security situation. FAO Director-General QU Dongyu had warned that the locust upsurge threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis. QU appealed for urgent funding to tackle the outbreak in order to protect livelihoods and food security and said that the needs will rise if the outbreak spreads to South Sudan and Uganda.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) has donated $1 million to the FAO to combat one of the most dangerous migratory pests. The ASTF arrived at the decision during a steering committee meeting at FAO headquarters in Rome on February 5. “We have a window of opportunity before the next planting season. We must act now. Flexible funding, like that of the ASTF, helps us move fast," said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO's Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources, in a statement.