Swarms of locusts have wreaked havoc on farms in Pakistan, wiping out swathes of winter crops and leading to fears of long-term food shortages.
It is estimated the plague has cost billions of dollars, with farmers left with no means of dealing with the infestation which came from the United Arab Emirates in mid-2019.
Farmers who cultivated crops of cotton, wheat, onion, chilli, tomato, and mustard fear they may never be able to recover financially.
The situation will also be damaging to Pakistan’s national economy, with agriculture accounting for 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 65 per cent of jobs.
Prices for staples such as vegetables and flour have already risen 15 per cent this year and the locust infestation could make these basic items unaffordable.
Mir Gul Muhammad, a farmer in Balochistan province, told The Guardian: “I cultivated around 50 acres of cotton crops and all of them have been eaten and destroyed by locusts.
“My other crops have been affected badly too. It is a loss of around 10m rupees [£51,000]. It will take years to recover from this loss.”
Ismail Rahoo, state minister of agriculture for Sindh, said the swarm was ‘10 times worse than last year’.
“The locusts and their eggs have now covered 50,000 square kilometres of farmland,” he said.
"We are expecting them to infest more than 5m hectares.”
Locusts move in swarms of up to 50 million, can travel 90 miles a day, and lay as many as 1,000 eggs per square metre of land.
They can eat twice their body weight in a single day, and a swarm can destroy enough food to feed 35,000 people.
Mr Rahoo said the government had ignored requests to spray pesticide from the air.
Locusts also attacked crops in several Indian states last month.