Pipli Pahar: The farmers in Pakistan are struggling hard to combat the worst locust plague in nearly three decades as insect swarms decimate entire harvests in the country’s agricultural heartlands and send food prices soaring.
Heavy rains and cyclones sparked “unprecedented” breeding and the explosive growth of locust populations on the Arabian peninsula early last year, according to the United Nations.
The insects have since fanned out and wreaked havoc on farms from East Africa to India before making their way into Pakistan from the desert on the country’s southwestern border with Iran.
The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture says nearly half of all crops have been destroyed near the port city of Karachi.
“I have not seen an infestation like this one in my career,” said Shehbaz Akhtar, an agricultural official charged with locust eradication efforts in the village of Pipli Pahar in central Punjab province.
The officials are also unable to use pesticides as it is danger for consumption, so even when the locusts are dead the remaining crops have to be discarded.