Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) chairperson Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan has said that all-out effort is being made to address the issue of locusts and other agricultural challenges.

Dr Khan visited the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) and called on UAF vice chancellor Dr Muhammad Ashraf along with UAF agricultural engineers and entomologists.

According to the FAO, around 38% of the total agricultural area in the country had become the breeding ground for desert locusts.

Dr Khan said that 97% of the farming community comprises small-scale farmers who are unable to adopt mechanisation practices, which is hampering agricultural advancement.

Newly developed locusts spray machine

He added that the PARC will support the UAF to disseminate its locust spray machine, research and development work for fighting the agricultural challenges confronting the country. The UAF’s newly developed locusts spray machine is the first one in the country and deemed a hallmark step to combat locusts. The PARC chairperson also visited a bio pesticide and locust research lab.

The federal government is planning a project worth Rs500 million to catch live locusts to be used as poultry feed. The UAF scientists should provide complete research and development work on locusts’ nutritive value for poultry, as well as the feasibility of using the insects in feed.

More patents and research needed  

Dr Ashraf said locusts have emerged as the second largest threat to the country after COVID-19 and may even be termed ‘COVID-20’ as it is posing a serious threat to food security.

Patents in the field of agriculture is scarce and scientists should come up with innovative ideas to register new patents.

He added that the UAF-developed locust spray machine is the first of its kind in the country and is showing effective results, and that tangible research on locusts are underway at the UAF. –