FAO warns of locust attack in Punjab again, eight districts on alert

Directions issued to DCs of Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur

FAO warns of locust attack in Punjab again, eight districts on alert

Archit Watts

Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 24

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has issued a warning that hopper groups in Pakistan will move to desert areas along the India-Pakistan border and this is expected to be supplemented by several waves of swarms coming from the spring-breeding areas in June.

The Agriculture Department has issued directions to the Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Kahan Singh Pannu, Secretary, Agriculture, said, “After getting the FAO’s warning, we have issued fresh directions to DCs of eight districts to activate control rooms at the district headquarters, hold regular coordination meetings of revenue, agriculture and locust control officers, form teams for field surveys, conduct meetings of village heads to brief them about the serious forecasts of locust incursion and identify places in coordination with the BSF and other officials. Teams will be deployed which will assist in establishing temporary camps with basic facilities, including boarding and lodging in border and remote areas in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Notably, in the past few months, locusts have attacked fields in Roopnagar and Bareka villages in Fazilka district, bordering Pakistan. However, the locusts were killed with the help of locals and district administration.

On May 13, a big swarm of locusts had attacked three villages in Fazilka. Further, some locusts were spotted in Muktsar district in January this year.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has set up a control room and appointed a joint director as the nodal officer.

The FAO’s letter has clearly stated that the current situation and forecast are alarming as locust infestations are expected to extend to other areas in the Horn of Africa and Southwest Asia.

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