Islamabad, February 27, 2020 (PPI-OT): FAO representative in Pakistan Mina Dowlatchahi met Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar in Islamabad today following the first national locust coordination meeting on Friday. The discussion focused on better understanding of unusual behaviour of the locust in Punjab, options for chemical and biological control measures and locust surveillance system being introduced by FAO.
Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan said that FAO as a neutral coordinator is organizing a meeting of locust affected countries in the region including Pakistan, India, Iran and Afghanistan next month. Federal Minister, Khusro Bakhtiar appreciated the efforts of FAO and stressed on the need for developing an integrated work plan for controlling the locust without any time lag.
The meeting followed FAO Director-General QU Dongyu’s three-day official visit to Pakistan from 14-16 February during which he pledged to help Pakistan fight its Desert Locust emergency after seeing first-hand the unusual impact of the upsurge in the country’s Punjab province.
FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu and Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan were joined by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Khusro Bakhtiar while visiting Okara district in the South-West region of Punjab province where locust swarms have invaded various areas with threats to livelihoods and food security of vulnerable farmers.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research and FAO last week also signed a $500,000 Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) to make FAO’s technical expertise available to national experts in order to strengthen their capacities to combat the Desert Locust infestation and improve locust management. Locusts are the oldest migratory pest in the world. They have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances and, if ecological conditions become favourable, rapidly reproduce.
FAO operates a Desert Locust Information Service that receives and analyzes data from locust-affected countries to assess the current locust situation, provide forecasts and if necessary issue warnings and alerts in order to keep the global community informed of locust developments and threats. FAO’s elocust system is helping to improve early warning by enabling rapid detection of locust outbreaks and green vegetation likely to become sites of locust infestations.
FAO is supporting the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to ensure availability of locust surveillance data in real-time. The locust surveillance data is being made part of the regular Food Security Nutrition and Information System for early warning and early action. Locust monitoring and timely control operations are vital to ensure food security and protect agriculture.
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United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)