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Duck solution to locust problem

Date: 28 February 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

China is planning to dispatch over 1,00,000 ducks to help Pakistan deal with a massive infestation by locusts, a crop-eating grasshopper that entered the country in June last year.

 

Background

Earlier in February, Pakistan declared the infestation a national emergency. Even so, it is not the only country with a locust infestation problem, as per the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the situation is alarming in the Horn of Africa, where widespread breeding is in progress.

 

Details

  • China will send the legion of lotus-eating waterfowl from the eastern province of Zhejiang, following an earlier visit to Pakistan by a team of Chinese experts to assess the situation.

  • China deployed ducks, whose diet consists of insects to deal with a locust infestation over two decades ago in Xinjiang. Further, when considering the alternative of spraying pesticides, ducks are considered to be more economical and environmentally friendly.

  • A study mentions that the ideal time for releasing ducks was about 20 days before the locusts developed, considering that once they do, they would probably land on stalks and ducks cannot climb, making it difficult for them to reach the locusts.

  • Therefore, it is not clear how effective the ducks being dispatched to Pakistan will be in dealing with locust swarms, considering they would have already developed wings.

  • It also says that one duck is equivalent to one person and could eliminate up to 40,000 locusts, also reducing the amount of fodder required for the ducks.