China to send duck legion to help Pakistan fight locusts - Pakistan Today

China to send duck legion to help Pakistan fight locusts

ISLAMABAD: China is preparing to send an army of 100,000 ducks to Pakistan to help the country exterminate the locust plague that has been posing a huge threat to the country’s agriculture, a Chinese newspaper reported on Thursday.

The estimated time of deployment is the second half of this year. Ducks are natural enemies of locusts, will not pollute the environment like pesticides and can lay eggs after having accomplished their mission, experts said.

The duck legion from Shaoxing, East China’s Zhejiang Province, are veterans who wiped out the locust outbreak in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region 20 years ago,  Li Guowei, head of Guowei Poultry Industry in Zhuji, Shaoxing, which provided the ducks, said in an interview with Global Times.

Locust plagues can be controlled with pesticide or through biological methods, but the latter is preferred because it is more cost-efficient, does not pollute the environment and can restore the biological chain, Lu Lizhi, a research fellow at the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who is directly involved in the duck deployment plan.

Ducks are also considered superior to frogs, birds or chickens, as they like to live in groups, have a strong ability to survive in the wild and are easy to manage, Lu said, noting that frogs and birds are less disciplined and cannot follow locusts into new areas.

“A chicken can eat 70 locusts (a day), but a duck can eat 200,” Lu said, noting that “they would not even leave a locust cocoon behind.

The ducks are very productive when they grow up, so after they accomplish the locust extermination mission, they can bring about economic value by laying eggs that can make delicious food, Li said.

The duck legion can be transported by aircraft and arrive in Pakistan in a day, the newspaper said in a report.

Lu said they still need time to set up a technical protocol with Chinese and Pakistani experts and calculate the best time to send the ducks in order to bring about the best result.

“We hope to perfect the technology of using ducks to control locusts and then export the technology to Pakistan, helping them control the locust plague. We will not only apply the technology in dealing with locusts in our country but also promote the technologies in countries involved in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative,” Lu said.

Pakistan will send personnel to China to learn the technology in Xinjiang first. The ducks from Shaoxing will be sent to Pakistan as early as later this year or early next year, Lu said.

Currently, Pakistan is still mainly using pesticides to control locusts, but hope to increase the proportion of biological methods, which are more environmentally friendly as well as economically beneficial to the country, Lu said.

A group of Chinese agricultural experts arrived in Pakistan on Monday, and will be providing technical support for locust plague control and jointly work out an action plan with the Pakistani government to prevent another possible outbreak later in April.

The plague of desert locusts, possibly a result of climate change and hurricanes, has invaded more than 20 countries from west to east in Africa, and from west to east in Asia in the past few months, spanning more than 16 million square kilometers, leading to a food crisis.

Pakistan declared a national emergency over the locust invasion earlier this month.

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