While Africa is groaning under the biggest grasshopper plague in 25 years, Pakistan seems to have resolved the persistent problem.
Pakistanis may be able to make money across the country by collecting grasshoppers for chicken feed production. That is what Prime Minister Imran Khan proposes. Pakistan suffers from the worst grasshopper plague in a quarter of a century, jeopardizing its food supply.
Pakistani policymakers and scientists based the approach on an initiative in Yemen torn by war and famine. There, the authorities encourage people to eat the locusts: protein-rich insects. A trial was conducted in part of the Punjab region, Pakistan’s breadbasket.
“We first had to teach the farmers how to catch the grasshoppers,” says one of the creators of the initiative. The easiest way to catch the locusts is to wait until nightfall, and the insects sit huddled together on bushes and trees.
20 tons of grasshoppers
The farmers receive 20 rupees per kilo of grasshoppers, which is 11 cents. A farmer’s wife who lost all her crops to the swarm said she and her son made 1,600 rupees in one night.
After 20 tons of grasshoppers were caught, the project’s budget ran out, and it was halted. The Ministry of Food now wants to roll out the project in other regions.
Locust plagues have plagued East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Pakistan since the beginning of this year.
During February, In Uganda, the locals have turned the locusts into foods. Some residents said they caught the insects, then boiled and dried them before finally frying them. But some are worried about possible health concerns as the Ugandan government has been spraying pesticides in locust infested areas in an attempt to stop the spread.
For India, this is the worst grasshopper plague in 30 years and is currently causing massive damage to the country. Experts fear that the swarms will multiply after the monsoon rains set in this month.
Rising food prices
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Pakistan suffers 5 billion dollars in damage if a quarter of its crops are damaged.
Food prices are also rising, leading to famine for more people. About 20 percent of Pakistanis are malnourished, and nearly half of the children are stunted.