Staff Reporter :
Farmers and growers across Balochistan have been voicing alarm over the worst plague of locusts to hit crops in decades, with the insects inflicting damages to standing crops in the province. A plague of locusts severely damaged standing crops including onion, tomatoes, wheat, cotton, etc in 31 out of a total 33 districts of Balochistan.
Standing crops in the Aghberg area located 25 km in the West of Quetta have been severely damaged by locust invasion. Onion, tomatoes, watermelon, melons, wheat, and other crops are under locusts invasion in Killi Randozai, Babozai, Barozai, Khanezai, and other villages of the Aghberg area.
“The worst that we have ever seen, in our lives”, Abdul Rehman Bazai, a grower from Milli Randozai told the daily Quetta Voice via telephone. He demanded of the national disaster management authority (NDMA) and provincial disaster management authority (PDMA) to launch spray to protect standing crops from swarms of locusts.
Locusts invasion has damaged crops in Pishin, Killa Abdullah, Kharan, Noshki, Kalat, Mastung, Sibi, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, and other districts of Balochistan, inflicting huge financial losses to farmers and growers of the province.
“The province is under locusts attacks”, the Spokesman government of Balochistan, Liaquat Shahwani lamented. He said swarms of locusts feared to enter into Balochistan from neighboring Iran.
Reacting to the threat, Prime Minister Imran Khan in January this year, declared a national emergency over the locust threat. He promised that agriculture was a top priority of the government, and all possible steps would be taken to protect crops from any danger “with a special focus on locust attacks.”
Most of the people in Balochistan are financially dependent on agriculture and livestock. The two sectors were earlier severely affected by the drought-hit like situation. “Government must act and act quickly to protect our crops”, Mohibullah Tareen, a grower in district Pishin told the daily Quetta Voice. Tareen said the locusts have severely damaged his onion, tomatoes, wheat, apple, and other crops. However, Faizullah Shah from the Agriculture Department said that 100 employees equipped with spray machines and other equipment were engaged in Pishin to conduct spray at orchards and crops.
Reacting to growers’ demands, the Spokesman NDMA claimed that the authority has conducted spray over 1400 hectares of land in the province to protect standing crops from destruction by locusts.