China is planning to dispatch a 100,000-strong army of ducks to help Pakistan combat a massive locust infestation, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.
The legion of lotus-eating waterfowl will be sent from the eastern province of Zhejiang following the earlier arrival of a team of Chinese experts in Pakistan to advise on how to tackle the infestation, said to be the worst in 20 years, the Ningbo Evening News said.
China deployed ducks, whose natural diet includes insects, to fight a similar infestation in the north-western Xinjiang region two decades ago, reportedly with considerable effectiveness. Their use is both much less expensive and environmentally-damaging than pesticides, the paper quoted a Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Agricultural Technology researcher, Lu Lizhi, as saying.
Ducks are also more suited to the task than other poultry, such as chickens, Lu said.
“Ducks like to stay in a group, so they’re easier to manage than chickens,” he said. A duck is also capable of eating more than 200 locusts per day, compared to just 70 for a chicken, Lu said. “They have three times the combat capability,” he added.
Calls to the provincial government’s press office and the agricultural sciences institute seeking confirmation of the report went unanswered on Thursday.
Th locus swarm laid waste to Pakistan’s cotton crop after invading last year and now threatens the wheat harvest.