Locusts and lockdown badly hit wheat harvesting
As the wheat harvesting season has begun in the country’s southern parts, Sindh is facing the challenge of tackling the locust attack amid the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown.
Talking to media persons in Hyderabad, Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said locust was still present in an area of 25,000 square kilometres, with a warning that the insects would prove another corona for agriculture after rains.
He mentioned that the locusts were also present in southern Punjab and Balochistan.
The federal government had the full authority to eliminate the locusts from the desert region, the provincial minister noted, adding that the latest locust attack was a result of not conducting aerial spray last year.
Earlier this month, Rahu said the incompetence and laziness shown by the Centre had threatened the agriculture sector in the entire country.
He had warned that any further delay in aerial and ground spray would result in paying a very high cost.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus and the resultant lockdown is causing a delay in wheat harvesting with devastating consequences for the farmers in Khairpur district of Sindh.
The reason is simple: there are no seasonal labourers available for the task which is making the growers nervous.
But the farmers of Khairpur are not alone in facing this situation. 24NewsHD had earlier reported that the lack of agriculture machinery and labour is making the harvest almost impossible in Sindh and southern Punjab.
On the other hand, the farmers in the greenbelt of Balochistan – Jaffarabad, Nasirabad and Sohbatpur – were although able to harvest their crop but unable to transport the produce due to the lockdown.
The wheat harvesting and the next sowing season after that have attained even more importance given the crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic as the FAO, WTO and WHO have warned of possible food shortage in the world.
A joint statement signed by the heads of FAO, WHO and WTO said, “Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market.”
"In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, specially to avoid food shortages," they added.
"When acting to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain," the statement added.
“Over the longer-term confinement orders and travel restrictions risk causing disruptions in agricultural production due to the unavailability of agricultural labour and the inability to get food to markets.”
"Such disruptions including hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, resulting in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste," they added.