First India-Pak meet on locusts likely on June 18

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NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are likely to hold their first of six bilateral meetings on the desert locust incursion issue on June 18 under an existing institutional mechanism.
Government sources told TOI on Tuesday that though both the countries are in principle agreed on the date and final modalities to hold such parleys in the backdrop of the pandemic situation are being worked out.
“It is most likely to be a held at Munabao (India side),” said a source.
Under the institutional mechanism, both the countries are expected to meet six times either at Munabao (India side) or at Khokhropar (Pakistan side) during June-November — a period which coincides with maximum incursions of the crop-munching desert locusts.
Though both the countries along with


, Afghanistan and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United Nations have been holding virtual meetings every week since March, the meeting on June 18 will be the first bilateral meeting of plant protection advisers of both the countries on the issue this year.
“A wireless communication between Jodhpur (India) and Karachi (Pakistan) is also going to be established for the June-November period for exchange of locust information between the two countries,” said an official.
The bilateral meetings are considered important for coordinated action against desert locusts which have potential to destroy standing crops on both sides of the border.
Since it is important to deal with it at far away breeding ground, India has already offered to supply


to Iran to carry out control operations in its Sistan-Balochistan and South Khorasan provinces. Iran is learnt to have responded positively to India’s offer during multilateral meetings, involving Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Usually, the locust swarms enter India for summer breeding with the advent of


. Its incursion this year, however, happened during March-April because of presence of residual population of locust in Pakistan which the neighbouring country couldn’t control during the last season. Once they entered Rajasthan, the swarms then gradually moved with the change in wind direction to interior districts of different states including


, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
India had launched its locust control operations in April. It has, so far, treated over 75,000 hectares of locust infested areas in different states.

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