Sindh [Pakistan], Jun 24 (ANI): Things don't seem to be looking up for Pakistan's economy, as a locust attack from Iran has put around 2,00,000 acres of cotton crop in the line of devastation in Sindh.
Farmers from Pakistan's second-largest cotton producing province are facing sleepless nights over the latest pest attack, despite efforts by the government to minimise damage, according to Arab News.
Cotton runs Pakistan's textile industry, generating scores of jobs. The country cannot afford to lose its cotton, especially at a time when it has secured a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Pesticide-mounted vehicles and aircraft have been deployed by the government to control the situation.
"On 25th May, we spotted the locusts for the first time when they were about 18 km away from irrigated land in Sindh," Arab News quoted a local farmer and president of a local agriculture chamber as saying.
Favourable weather conditions have multiplied the locust population. "It forced us to raise alarm bells and inform the authorities," the farmer added.
Locusts first emerged from Sudan and Eritrea in January this year. By February, they had hit Saudi Arabia and Iran before heading to Pakistan's Balochistan in March.
"Saudi Arabia quickly launched a control operation, but the undetected and uncontrolled gregarious locusts moved toward Iran," Muhammad Tariq Khan, a high ranking official at Pakistan's Ministry of National Food Security and Research, told Arab News.
"The conditions (for breeding) were conducive for them in Balochistan due to rainfall," he added.
Agricultural produce like pomegranate, watermelon, grain and cotton have been affected in Balochistan. Officials have maintained that not much damage has been caused, even though the exact extent of the damage is yet to be revealed.
Despite the government claim that the damage was not too high, farmers said that the destruction was colossal.
"Despite a massive attack, the damage was not too high," said Liaquat Shahwani, Balochistan government's spokesperson.
"They haven't even spared the trees," said Naseer Baloch, a farmer in Kharan.
The last major locus attack in Pakistan happened back in 1993 and 1997. However, due to the lack of statistical data, the damage could not be compared. (ANI)