LOCUSTS – The Unpopular Crop Villain

locust swarm image

Just when we thought the year couldn’t throw anything else at the world, it has LOCUST! A lot of them. Just ½ a square mile of swarm has up to 80 million locust packed in it, while the locusts may not be eating their way through the United States, they are wreaking havoc from Africa to Asia to the Middle East. It’s a huge problem for food supply in countries that are already struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, if this locust invasion is not controlled now, the upcoming rainy season could make it a true disaster, like the famine level disaster in the eastern part of Africa

What exactly is a Locust ?

Desert Locust(Specie with the most economic impact)
Map showing desert locust across Africa and Asia
Desert Locust spread across Africa and Asia. Source(National Geographic)

Basically it is a kind of grasshopper common to dry /arid areas. They are normally harmless and dull, but under certain wet weather conditions, they undergo a high transformation into this ravenous yellow swarmer. In a crowd everything about them changes; their color, behavior, appetite, they reproduce at a very fast rate. These crowds grow into swarms that are ravenous for crops of any kind of vegetation, they destroy nearly anything that is green and leafy. These locust swarms do not stay put, they travel with the wind and are found in all directions across borders eating their weight in crops. A ½ square mile locust swarm eats about the same amount of food in a day as 35,000 people and there are a lot of ½ square miles of swarms.

East Africa, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, India are all on high alert, as well as South America. Last year clouds of locust invaded hearts of New Delhi India’s capital, at one point China was apparently going to send thousands of ducks to Pakistan to just eat the problem, but it never happened. The $300 million, the FAO are trying to raise for containment campaigns may not be enough.

Recent forecasts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have indicated a risk of locust invasion in West Africa from June 2020. Locust swarms have been detected in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states in Nigeria, causing heavy damage to crops in these areas. These pests migrated from neighboring Cameroon and they move like clouds and so far they have spiked the already high level of food insecurity in the country.

The threat is unprecedented according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), where locust have their own twitter and a division of experts tracking them. The FAO says that ultimately climate change and extreme weather events is responsible for locust swarms invasion. In this case 2 cyclones triggered heavy rain over a remote area of Arabian Peninsula creating this ideal condition for desert locust to breed unabated.

Countries juggling with the pandemic, drought and conflict lack the tools to deal with this plague. In Sokoto State Nigeria the traditional methods of spraying were employed i.e. knapsacks. As a result of their limitations peasant farmers in the three affected states are still crying out for help or better still a better technology. This locust invasion has made the farmers incur considerable loss to their field crops, livestock and the corresponding shortage of food supply in the country.  We may not be able to completely eradicate locust but we can minimize it to the very least.

How can locust swarms be controlled?

The only and most effective way to try to reduce the population number of the locust swarm is by aerial control of chemical pesticides and bio pesticides, this requires a lot of logistics, good organization and very good information. This is where drones can be of immense help, with the services of precision sprayer drones provided by Beat Drone, we can help you control this pest invasion effectively, replacing labor-intensive and potentially harmful use of backpack sprayers and similar equipment, in situations where terrain and/or ground conditions rule out the use of conventional or even specialist vehicles.  Our services are offered at an affordable rate even for small holder farmers.

The cost of running a manned aircraft is very high but using drones  situated in different areas will save cost ,time and overall a better result. With drones you can even fly at a low level. Now that the monstrous rains are looming, bringing the perfect world for locust to breed, people may now be able to do more than stare up at the clouds and watch their fields vanish. It is evident that technology is the way to go in fighting the pandemics and natural disasters that the world is grappling with.

Below are some interestingly terrifying facts about Locusts. 

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