Swarms of locusts spreading across Pakistan are emerging as a bigger threat to the economy than the coronavirus pandemic, with the pests threatening farm output, livelihoods and food security.

The locust-invasion now covers an area of 57 million hectares in a country with a total crop area of 23 million hectares, said Falak Naz, director general of crop protection at the Ministry of Food Security and Research. While not all the areas infested now are crop lands, the insects are moving fast, he said.

Agriculture is the second-biggest sector in the economy — contributing about 20% to gross domestic product — and provides a livelihood to half of the nation’s workforce. Faced with devastating losses, authorities are now being forced to divert money set aside to fight the coronavirus to help combat the locust scourge instead.

Read more at Bloomberg News