Islamabad, 19 February 2020 – Talha Akhtar:
China is sending a team of technical experts to Pakistan to deliberate on the aerial control of locust swarms within the country.
The locust swarm invaded the country last year and has devastated the cotton crop within the remaining planting season and is already threatening the country’s wheat crop.
The swarm arrived last summer, but has grown to threatening proportions since November 2019 when the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issued a warning that the swarm has started to leave its reproducing grounds in the deserts from Cholistan to Tharparkar.
The federal government has declared an emergency this month but is struggling to determine out a robust response.
In this regard, Minister for National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar on Tuesday met with Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and underscored the urgent need of aerial support along with insecticides to contain the breeding of locusts in vulnerable areas.
The envoy assured of full support and to consider supply of pesticides and spraying equipment to Pakistan as an emergency project.
A senior official of the food security ministry told that the Chinese technical experts’ delegation will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday to start evaluation of the locust situation. Besides discussions with the ministry officials and Pakistani experts, the Chinese team will also visit locust affected regions in the provinces.
During the meeting, Bakhtyar underlined the importance of measures taken by neighbouring countries to control locust swarms.
The Chinese envoy said that China is interested by growing its import of agricultural products from Pakistan, such as onion, potato and meat. In this regard, China wants to ease the export of such products from Pakistan before the high-level visit which is expected in May, he added.
Minister Bakhtyar welcomed the Chinese interest in the import of agricultural products from Pakistan. He also stated the pro-activeness of China to assist Pakistan on the locust issue and said this shows the strength of Pak-China relationship.