Pakistan mainly depends on home-grown cotton for its textile industry. Output in the year to June is forecast to fall about 18 percent to 9.86 million bales, the lowest in at least 17 years, according to official data.
Initially from the Arabian Peninsula, the desert locusts swarmed from the Red Sea coast of Sudan and Eritria in January, hit Saudi Arabia and Iran in February, and southwestern Pakistan in March, the ministry said.
The authorities have already treated some areas in insurgency-hit southwest Balochistan province, which has a relatively small cotton crop, said Falak Naz, a director general of crop protection at the ministry.
The bigger concern is for Sindh and Punjab provinces, the country’s top cotton growing areas. Falak said the insects were feeding on wild bushes in Nara desert, about 20 kilometers away from the cotton crop in Sindh.
“We expect it will not damage the crop and we will be able to restrict it there,” said Popalzai.
Reporting by Ismail Dilawar.