China and Pakistan joint efforts to win wars against locusts and pandemic: Chinese agricultural diplomat

By Dong Feng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/27 14:13:40

As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan are using all the technology tools at their disposal to strengthen cooperation to win the war against desert locusts while dealing with challenges from the coronavirus, China's first agricultural diplomat in Pakistan said on Tuesday.

Omar Hamid Khan, secretary of Pakistan's Ministry of National Food Security & Research, and Gu Wenliang, on behalf of  Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, present the meeting memo for the Second Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agricultural Cooperation in Islamabad, Pakistan on April 24. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in Pakistan

Gu Wenliang, agricultural commissioner at the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan told the Global Times that since he came to Islamabad at the end of November 2019, China and Pakistan have made a lot of progress in agricultural cooperation, with bilateral work to control locusts one of the most notable examples.

In the past three months, each day after work, Gu has leveraged his Twitter account to get acquainted with people from all walks of life in Pakistan. Meanwhile, he also gets feedback on his work while sharing progress on social media.

He created his Twitter account in February and shared news about a Chinese working group's on-site investigation while he accompanied the group. His tweets attract much attention. "It takes about an hour to update my Twitter account daily," he said. "It is a good and effective way to know the update of China's efforts in helping controlling locusts." 

For instance, a virtual salon on joint efforts to control locusts, part of the hotline campaign for China-Pakistan Economic and Trade was facilitated on May 20, right before the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Gu told the Global Times that the cloud salon attracted almost 170 delegates to discuss cooperation between China and Pakistan in locust control. The delegates work in embassies, locust control departments, agricultural universities, agricultural enterprises and innovative technology companies.

Through the cloud salon, Chinese experts in the locust control working group demonstrated the use of plant protection drones and high-efficiency remote sprayers, also known as cannons. They also shared insights on the application of pesticides for locust control to audiences from Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Nigeria during a video conference.

In Pakistan, the conference was livestreamed by The Express Tribune, a Pakistani daily English-language newspaper, on its Facebook page, and a total of 191,000 people watched the 2-hour stream. Netizens from all over the world followed and liked the content.

Earlier in 2020, the outbreak of the desert locust disaster in Pakistan had a serious impact on agricultural production and food security in the country.

The Pakistani government is stepping up efforts to fighting the epidemic. As of the end of April, the Chinese government had provided Pakistan with 300 tons of malathion pesticides and 50 vehicle mounted high-efficiency sprayers to help Pakistan fight the locust disaster. The two countries' agricultural departments are actively implementing a Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening cooperation on plant pest and disease control, which aims to improve the ability and level of sustainable management of locusts.

"In my opinion, desert locusts might continue to affect Pakistan for several years," Gu said.

So far, Pakistan has deployed more than 1,100 locust survey and control teams across the country, Gusaid, citing sources. Gu has built good working relationship with his counterparts in Department of Plant Protection and National Disater Management Authority. 

The locust exterminators are isolated in the wild and have not been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

To help Pakistan cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs donated 1,000 sets of protective clothing, 1,000 goggles and 30,000 medical masks to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research of Pakistan in early April.

The epidemic situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate, with more than 2,000 new cases each day, he said. As of Monday, there were more than 56,000 confirmed cases in Pakistan.

Gu is closely observing the pandemic's impact on the control of locusts.

Since April 24, China and Pakistan have been accelerating the establishment of a center for sustainable control of plant pests and diseases, he said.

During his busy working days, Gu spends hours communicating with both his colleagues in China on WeChat and his counterparts in Pakistan via telephone or WhatsApp to get coordination work done.

The two countries will continue to foster exchanges in agricultural science and technology, and to introduce Pakistani agricultural products to China, he said.


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