New Tech To Be Used In Fight Against Locust Invasion

Locusts. [Courtesy]

A new innovation promises to play a major role in the war against the locusts.

The elocust3platform, which is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) might be the answer in the fight against the insects which have ravaged crops and struck fear among farmers.

The locust situation has threatened food production in the country and has already ravaged crops in more than 20 counties.

A variety of methods have been employed to deal with the menace but none has proved to be a reliable solution. Although the measures taken have had some success, experts have been calling for deployment of the latest technology such as apps and drones, for achievement of better results.

The elocust3platform works by locating where the insects are to enable precision in aerial spraying.
The system will capture data on the location, type of locust (mature or immature) and the size of the swarm.

The app will then pick the coordinates and relay this information to the control centre.

“The information will help the aerial team to know the exact location given that they will have coordinates, hence enabling efficient spraying of the swarm by the aircraft. This way we minimize wastage,” said Hamisi Williams, deputy head of FAO in Kenya.

The platform will greatly inform the locust management team on the areas affected and will help the team to direct their efforts to the exact problem areas.

FAO has recruited a number of scouts who are monitoring the situation in the fields and feeding the information to the app.

“The use of this app enables us to create a map of locust invasion and it helps us to know the areas that have been highly affected and requires quick action,” Williams said.

The app is android enabled and can be downloaded from the app store.

Mr Williams pointed out that unlike previously, when data was kept in books and files and could make tracing of the information difficult, the app has already proved to be instrumental in controlling the locust situation as all critical information is available online.

FAO is currently building an information database at Kilimo house, headquarters for the Ministry of Agriculture, to equip the government with the technology even after the situation is controlled.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said that due to technology driven efforts, they expect to have wiped out the locust invasion by June 2020.

“The works on the ground have been going on well as FAO and the Kenyan Government have been on the forefront to eliminate these insects,” Said Prof. Boga.

The PS also revealed that the government has so far spent up to Kshs500 million in the war against the locusts.

The rapid spread of the pests have been a source for concern and scientists have recommended use of superior technology to complement the aircraft spraying

“The government needs to get help from countries with advanced drone technology like the United States, Israel and Denmark to deal with the locust menace before it gets out of hand,” said Muo Kasina, the chairman of Entomological Society in February.

Drones can help with precision spraying. Countries such as Ghana and Rwanda have made great strides with the technology, especially in medicine and Agriculture.

However, with the drones’ regulations in Kenya yet to be approved, the use of the technology may not be a possibility at the moment.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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