LOCUSTS are posing a serious threat to the farmers in Punjab during these days while they have already ravaged the farmsin Sindh.The menacethey are causing is alarming and they initially originated from the Arabian Peninsula but then moved towards the South Asian region due to favourable weather conditions. Now as we all know that Sindh is the second largest cotton producerin Pakistan andthe damage done there by miniature insects capable of a large scale destruction ie. Locusts, has destroyed Pakistan economically and stability wise.
The cotton and textile industries play a dominant rolein exports; cotton accounts for 55 per cent of country’s export earnings and Pakistan has a 14% share of world’s cloth exports. Considering Pakistan’s Annual GDP growth rate of 2019, agriculture, forestry and fishing contributes to 11% of 53% of total GDP. Cotton is Pakistan’s prize crop and since the invasion of locusts in June 2019, about 40% of crops have been destroyed by the incursion which mainly included cotton of course. Pakistan’s economy mainly consists of cotton and textile as Pakistan has an agrobased industry and the destruction of crops in 2019, and now 2020, the cotton production has decreased by 19%. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the growth rate of cotton exports was 66.67%inthe year 2019 and this is not so bad if the percentage is considered but if we look back to the growth rate in 1993, the percentage was 72.94% and in the same year Pakistan was plagued by the same attack. And right now, due to lower temperature in Punjab, locusts are making their way to the farms over there and this time the situation is worse and the reason is that the locusts’ type is the most notorious one ie. Desert Locusts (Schistocercagregaria) and these locusts are the ones which caused significant losses to crops in West Africa in the years 2004-5 and had an adverse effect on the food and land security in the affected region. Pakistan can lose hundreds of acres of land, if the problem is not tackled the right way. Pakistan’s InformationMinister FirdousAshiq Awan said: “We are facing the worst locust infestation in more than two decades and have decidedto declare a national emergencyto deal with the threat.” Even though the precautionary measures are being taken and a specific kind of pesticide is being sprayed on crops i.e. fipronil,this pesticideitselfis very harmful for human health so even if the crops are saved, they are of no use (only taking into account the food crops this time). The economy of Pakistan, God forbid, can be in a shambles, considering the fact that the stock market and businesses are already facing numerous issues. So there’s a really high chance that the growth rate of Pakistan is going to be really low this year. According to the report of Pakistan Cotton Ginners‘ Association (PCGA), there was a 21.09pc decline in the cotton production in the year 2019. Punjab, being the only province with lion production of cotton, failed to meet the cotton production target in 2019. The statistics indicate that a total of 4.44 million bales had arrived at the cotton market till October 15, which are 1.6 million bales or 26.54 percent less than 5.044 million bales over the corresponding period last year. Unlikethe surplus cotton productioninthe year 2011-12, due to infortunes like the one discussed in this article, there is an approximate gap of 5 million bales in the years 2019- 20. And in order to keep the textile industry running, there is a dire need of cotton imports from the US and Brazil which would be of high costs i.e. about 6 million bales, according to the President of KCCI. This would, resultantly, put a burden of $1.5 billion on the foreign exchange reserves. Hence,there should be quick and early solution derived for this matter by the government as the textile industries are crucial for the economic stability in Pakistan and the cotton shortage would terribly affect the performance of the textile sector.