Kenya Embraces Technology To Fight Locust Menace Using E-locust App

Locusts. [Courtesy]

Kenya has deployed the use of technology in the fight against the locust menace.

A team of locust scouts trained by local aid group, ACTED, with the help of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) working with the Turkana County Regional Government are using an application dubbed E-locust to spot and report sightings of the locusts.

The information is sent in real-time to a database in Lodwar, Turkana’s main town, and is then used by the team deployed to spray the insects with pesticides in efforts to hinder formation of bigger swarms.

Christopher Achilo is one of the scouts deployed in the field. He uses his smartphone to take photos and video of a tree trunk in the village that is crawling with the pink insects and then uploads the images onto an app.

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“One locust eats food equal to his weight (every day), so imagine having millions of locusts, if you cannot even see over the trees,” he said.

“Within some time, all the trees are just naked. Even they go inside the farms, they strip the farms, so it is a very big impact on food security.”

In a bulletin published on July 3rd, FAO said that it expects the swarms to continue building up in Kenya until mid-July.  It is said that in June, control operations managed to treat around 30,830 hectares against locusts, around 8,500 of that by air.

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Swarms can fly up to 150 km (93 miles) a day with the wind, and a single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people. Desert locusts feed on nearly all kinds of green vegetation and crops including flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, millet and rice.

The locust numbers have surged to an all-time high in three generations in East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019 and early this year. The menace has been encouraged by the wet weather and dispersed by a record number of cyclones.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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