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Govt decides to compensate farmers affected by locusts attacks

The farmers affected by the locusts’ attack in the country would be compensated, it was decided in a meeting to review the National Action Plan for Locust Control at National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) in Islamabad on Thursday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting which was also attended by Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior ranking officials.

While speaking at the briefing, the premier accorded in-principle approval for Phase-II of the National Action Plan for Locust Control under which affected farmers would be compensated.

The prime minister highly appreciated the timely and coordinated response of federal and provincial governments, including the Pakistan Army, for effectively controlling locust attacks and the use of indigenously developed equipment in this regard.

Emphasising that a coordinated national response of federal and provincial governments and organisations is required to cope with another expected locust swarm so that crop production is not affected, the prime minister said that the locust attack combined with the COVID-19 outbreak was a huge challenge for Pakistan.

During the meeting, the prime minister was also informed that the National Action Plan for Locust Control Phase-I has been completed.

Last month, Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam had said that July will bring with it a new threat of locust swarms, with more of the pests entering Pakistan from Africa, Iran, Oman, Afghanistan, and India.

He had said locusts have now taken a new route to enter Dera Ismail Khan and Waziristan through Afghanistan.

Rs26 billion needed

While briefing the NLCC today, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam Friday said that Rs26 billion would be required for purchasing planes, vehicles, spray and other necessary material to mitigate the desert locusts attack.

He further informed that the federal government would provide an amount of Rs14 billion while provincial governments would also release Rs12 billion for the protection of crops from locusts swarms.

The minister appreciated the role of the governments of China, United Kingdom and Japan for joining hands with Pakistan in thwarting the desert locust threat.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Umar Hameed said that negotiations with World Bank were in progress for seeking its support regarding the provision of funds for an anti-locust drive.

The discussion for the provision of a soft loan with the bank was also in progress, adding that the banks would extend help to Pakistan for strengthening the ongoing efforts of the government to eradicate the locusts swarms.

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