Pakistan’s federal Food security ministry is ramping up its fight against crop-munching swarms of locusts by launching a $200 million project with foreign assistance provided by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The Locust Emergency and Food Security (LEAFS) project is the first agricultural project financed by the World Bank in Pakistan, according to the national food security ministry.
Pakistan approached the World Bank for $200 million in financial assistance and the Asian Development Bank for $150 million.
Under the LEAFS project, 20 aircraft would be used in the locust-mitigation operation, of which six would be bought and the remaining 14 would be leased.
A total of 18 districts of Pakistan have been identified by the ministry in which relief measures would be carried out -- nine districts in Balochistan, four in Punjab, four in Sindh and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The project will focus on four main components: surveillance and control measures, livelihood protection and rehabilitation, and warning preparedness, food security, monitoring, and evaluation.
Pakistan, which has been dealing with food shortages over a relatively long period of time, estimates that the locusts have caused $1.5 billion of damage, with 37 percent of the country's territory vulnerable to insect attack. The swarms of locusts have already devoured large quantities of crops in over 60 districts across four provinces.
The general secretary of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, Zahid Bhurgri, predicts the locust swarm will impact the price of flour and vegetables, although the Ministry of Food Security and Research says it has been fairly successful in minimising the impact of desert locusts on the country’s agriculture.