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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the National Locust Control Center (NLCC) here on Friday, and gave in-principle approval for Phase-II of the National Action Plan for locust control in the country after a decision that the affected farmers would be compensated through this package.

The prime minister was informed that the National Action Plan for Locust Control Phase-I was completed. Engineer-in-Chief Pakistan Army, National Coordinator NLCC Lt Gen Moazzam Ijaz gave a detailed briefing on locust control measures in affected areas of the country.

The briefing was also attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, federal ministers, Syed Fakhar Imam, Asad Umar, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Senator Shibli Faraz, Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Special Assistant for Information and Broadcasting Lt Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, and others.

Shahbaz Gill, chairman NDMA, while chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and chief secretary Balochistan participated via video link. The prime minister stated that locust attack combined with COVID-19 was a huge challenge for Pakistan.

He added that the government would undertake every possible effort for locust control, since it involved food security of the country, and emphasized that a coordinated national response of federal and provincial governments, and organisations was required to cope with the expected locust swarm, so that crop production was not affected.

He acknowledged timely and coordinated response of the federal and provincial governments, including Pakistan Army, for effectively controlling locust attack and use of indigenously-developed equipment.

The prime minister appreciated the governments of China, Japan and the UK for providing technical and other assistance for locust control.

Earlier, he was briefed about the coordinated efforts being made for monitoring, survey and control, inter-organizational coordination, resource allocation and mobilization and awareness campaign for locust control at national, provincial and districts' levels.

The premier was informed that due to the trans-boundary nature of locust swarm movement; close liaison with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and affected countries in the region was being maintained to take timely pre-emptive measures.

The premier was also informed that a locust swarm movement was expected from "Horn of Africa" via Iran, and another from India, for which necessary control measures were in place.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020