According to an estimate, locusts in Sindh have devoured more than 200,000 acres of crops – including wheat, maize, rice and various vegetables. The Sindh government claims that more than 18 teams of provincial plant protection and agriculture departments have been working throughout the province to control locusts. Farmers, however, instead of relying on the support of Sindh government, have autonomously started their own war on the locusts by adopting different techniques.
Somewhere they beat drums in the fields. Elsewhere they play high-volume songs of Jalal Chandio (a local folk singer) in the fields. Somewhere else they stop their children from going to school and with their entire families go into the fields to drive locusts away.
But the locusts, it seems, will not let go of Sindh easily.
The situation eventually forced local farmers to block roads and start protests against the “cruelty of locusts” and the “helplessness of the government entities” – because their precious crops are being devoured in front of their eyes by swarms of locusts. Poor people who only depend on crops find themselves in a catch-22 situation.
The history of locusts’ attacks is very ancient in this region – much like elsewhere. Folk memory testifies that whenever locusts come, they bring devastation with them.
In 2018, a group of American researchers published a research report about locusts in which they stated that owing to rises in temperature locusts and many other insects move around and that the relocation process makes them become more hungry or greedy for eating. The report further states that in coming years, due to climate change, more than 80 countries would be affected by very serious locust attacks. The researchers also have the point of view that with a rise of 1 degree Celsius in the temperature of the globe, chances of locust attacks have also increased. This affects crops like wheat, maize and rice worldwide as a gross loss of 10% to 25% in the profit on these crops has been reported in the recent past.
A FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report warns that a small swarm of locusts has the capacity to eat the food of more than 35,000 people in a single day
A FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report warns that a small swarm of locusts has the capacity to eat the food of more than 35,000 people in a single day.
In 1958, a locust attack in Ethiopia damaged a 167,000-ton crop of wheat on 1,000 square kilometres of land, which was estimated as the food of 1 million people. Even the ancient Roman writer and philosopher Pliny the Elder said that once due to an attack of locusts, 800,000 people had died of hunger. The region he was talking about is currently the countries of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria of Africa.
In 2004, locusts caused losses of some US $ 2.5 billion in Africa. There are several examples of such locusts’ attacks which are enough to let our government know that how severely locusts can affect people in Pakistan.
Most recently, after locusts thousands of bats have attacked different mango orchards in Tando Jam area, causing heavy losses by damaging unripe fruit.
This is the right time for Sindh government to wake up otherwise the disasters of the past are not too far away.
The writer is a freelance contributor and he can be reached at email@example.com)