The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stated that recent locust attacks in Pakistan could lead to widespread food shortages. Pakistan can lose Rs 393 billion in winter crops and another Rs 451 billion in summer crops.
The loss of Pakistan
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said that in Pakistan, there are 50 districts where locusts are present. Survey and operation are underway in locust flooded areas while 2 districts of Sindh, 9 districts of Punjab, 31 districts of Balochistan, and 8 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are locust-affected.
The effect of this year’s attack will stay until winter crops, which can cause not only cause the financial crises, but also fears of food shortages, and its annual loss will more serious than the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
What is Locust?
Locusts belong to the family of insects, a collection of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase. These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming gregarious.
The locusts fly with their leader and wherever the chief lands, all the locusts follow him. The saliva of locusts is a poison for plants and that is why they destroy the fields where they go.
The Locust attack
The attack of locust in Horn of Africa and farmlands in South Asia has become a threat to the nation, and the risks to related items are increasing as locusts fly in large groups.
These swarms often consist of more than ten billion locusts and spread over an area of hundred kilometers. These locusts eat everything to satisfy their hunger and can travel about 120 km daily and they come down like a disaster in the countryside.
Even a single swarm of locusts can destroy enough crops in a matter of minutes for a year. Life is badly affected by these locusts, so it is considered one of the worst epidemics.
The devastating effects of locusts on crops
Food security in the region is threatened by swarms of desert locusts, these insects have destroyed crops of cotton, wheat, maize, beans and many other commodities in Pakistan, whereas the government has declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak.
Spraying on crops was also practiced to control locusts in many places in the country but unfortunately, it did not work and this swarm of locusts has so far wreaked havoc in many places of Sindh and Punjab causing financial loss to farmers. In addition, there is also a decline in agricultural production.
Locusts can be eaten too
Locust is surprisingly eaten by many people too. Those who are fond of eating it call it ‘dried prawn’. They say that it has as much power as sea prawns, these insects are also eaten by boiling and frying in oil in Saudi Arabia while in many parts of Pakistan, people eat locusts with great relish.
Medicalically proven benefits of locusts
Medical experts say that locusts despite being rich in protein also contain protein, oil, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus due to their diet. Eating locusts eliminates various seasonal diseases. According to medical experts, it may be helpful to feed locusts to children with low back pain, joint pain, and slow growth.
Prevention from Locusts
Many countries, including Pakistan, are taking steps to prevent locust infestations. Airborne spraying can be more effective on locusts, and continuous spraying can also reduce their reproduction.
A huge flock of locusts can be targeted with chemicals and destroyed in a short time, as locust infestation because locust infestation is not a one-time problem, but swarms attack can destroy crops again and again.
The United Nations has called for air spray in the affected areas and called on international agencies to provide emergency assistance.