Locust eradication plan
In the aftermath of recurring locust attacks and decimation of standing Kharif crops, vegetable and fruits on vast tracts of agriculture lands, National Locust Control Center was constituted and an action plan was worked out. Virtual meeting of this Center , chaired by Lieutenant General Moszam Ijaz, was held the other day in which Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Agriculture Minister Mohibullah Khan urged the inclusion of 15 affected districts of the province in the locust control plan.
Notwithstanding the seriousness shown by the federal and provincial governments to tackle the imminent threat of new locus attack, proposed allocations in budgets are insufficient. The federal government has set aside Rs.10 billion for development projects in agriculture sector; the government of Punjab has earmarked Rs.31.73 billion; Sind has set aside Rs.14 billion; and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa has allocated Rs.4.76 billion. The insufficient allocations explain the apathy shown to the crops protection.
Since the transfer of subjects on the concurrent list of the Constitution to the federating units in 2010, agriculture development and crops protection is now the responsibility of provincial government. The Ministry of National Food Security has a limited role in the matter of crops protection. But the ground reality is that provincial governments are confronted with the dearth of insecticides and aircrafts for aerial spray. The method of manual spray by farmers has not proved effective in the previous locust infestations as it was not done by all farmers due financial constraints. It remains to be seen as to whether federal government can arrange more than 30 aircrafts for aerial spray, keeping in view the pen-point demand of 20 aircrafts for Punjab, six for Sind and four each for Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan along with sufficient supply of insecticides.