China is not preparing to dispatch an army of 100,000 ducks to help Pakistan combat swarms of crop-eating locusts.
Contrary to reports, the flock of ducks will not be sent from the eastern province of Zhejiang following advice from a team of Chinese experts on how best to tackle the infestation, The Guardian reported.
The story started in the Ningbo Evening News, and reportedly now has 520m views on China's social media platform Weibo. China deployed ducks, whose natural diet includes insects, to fight a similar situation two decades ago in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, reportedly to good effect. A big flaw in the story is that ducks need water.
"Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan’s desert areas, the temperature is very high," Zhang Lhong a professor from China Agricultural University reportedly said.
He is one of the Chinese experts sent to help Pakistan tackle the locusts and advised the use of pesticides instead.
Pakistan was invaded by the locust swarm last year, which proceeded to lay waste to the country's cotton crop and is now menacing the wheat harvest.
The Ningbo Evening News quoted Lu Lizhi, as a researcher from the Zhejiang provincial Institute of Agricultural Technology, saying ducks were less expensive and damaging as pesticides. It also said that ducks could eat more than 200 locusts in a day compared to the 70 a chicken could. Locust infestation Pakistan declared a national emergency earlier this month following the locust infestation.
The UN warned that swarms of locusts could spread across eastern Africa to ravage more countries after thousands of hectares of farmland already destroyed in Kenya, Soalia and Ethiopia.
Locusts have been destroying the crops and livestock land, making it the worst locust invasion Kenya has seen in 70 years, and the worst for Somalia and Ethiopia for 25.
Somalia also declared a national emergency in response.
The insect is considered one of the most dangerous migratory pests as a swarm of one square kilometre could consume the equivalent of crops that could feed 35,000 people for a year, according to the UN.
Aerial pesticides are considered the best means of controlling them.