Testing Smart Drones to Fight Locusts in East Africa

smart drones to fight locusts
smart drones

East Africa is under siege by the desert locusts since late last year. The region which technically is unprepared to deal with this scourge is seeking external help. This will help avert further devastation by these creatures. Additionally, it will suppress the multiplication of these desert locusts. The governments of these nations have been using aerial spraying. Unfortunately, that has proved incapable of battling the massive locusts’ invasion. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is planning on testing the application of smart drones to curb the desert locust’s menace in East Africa. This article talks about the use of smart drones to fight locusts in East Africa.

Smart Drones

Smart Drones are processors like the ones used in smartphones. They are more efficient, accurate and effective. They are networked for enabled coordination and collaboration.

The United Nations is set to test these smart drones. They are equipped with atomizers and mapping sensors in parts of East Africa that are infested by desert locusts. It is for the first time these drones will be used. Hence it will act as a tester project. 

The governments of East Africa highly welcome the use of smart drones to fight locusts. This is given that they have a limited number of aircraft that can be used for aerial spraying. Despite their efforts, aerial spraying has proved not to be efficient enough to cub the massive growing amounts of the desert locusts. 

  • Features and advantages of smart drones

Smart Drones have special sensors that are capable of detecting the location of the swarms and adapting to the height and speed of the locusts. On top of that, it can detect and adapt to the pace of the flying locusts.

Smart Drones exists in different sizes in terms of volumes of insecticides they can load. There are those medium-sized with limited battery life, as a result covering a limited area. On the other hand, there are larger drones with petrol-powered engines which are capable of carrying tanks of up to 1,500 liters and can cover a distance of 500 km spraying the insecticide.

  • Challenges of using drones 
  • Using drones is not a walk in the park. Here’s a list of the challenges that the use of drones pose;
Lack of regulations

Bearing in mind that the last time such a catastrophe of invasion of desert locust happened was several decades ago there may be no laws drafted regarding deployment of such equipment. Most East African countries are in the drafting stages of various laws hence this could cause restrictions or cause a delay of implementation of this equipment in the region.

  • Post drones usage 

The Governments and people of the regions infested by these locusts need to understand the expected extent of challenges afterwards. The post-disaster challenges could touch on the health of both human and animals, water bodies in addition to crop loss. 

Parting Shot

Given the enormous appetite of these swarms, for example, desert locusts in a square kilometer can feed food that can be eaten by 35,000 people in a day. Consequently, they are capable of causing a full-blown catastrophe if nothing is done to stop them. The locust menace, which is getting more complicated by the day is likely to multiply to 500 times more their current number by June 2020. Therefore, the use of smart drones should be quickly implemented.


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