China has stepped up the alert in case swarms of locusts that have laid waste to agricultural land in Pakistan, India and East Africa find their way across its borders, a government agency said.
Beijing has convened a task force to watch for, control and — if possible — prevent the arrival of the voracious insects. The government also planned to hold a meeting of experts this month to discuss and coordinate nationwide swarm prevention efforts, including an emergency warning system.
While the Chinese government said the locust threat was small, alerts have been stepped up since mid-February, when the agriculture ministry decided to track the locusts’ movements and study ways of keeping them out.
Agriculture in China had a difficult year in 2019, hit by the crop-gobbling fall army worms which spread across a million hectares of farmland, as well as African swine fever that halved the country’s herd of 440 million pigs through preventive culling.