International Experts urge deployment of drones to fight locusts

NAIROBI, Mar 16 (XINHUA/APP): International experts on migratory pests on Monday urged countries in the Horn of Africa region to fast-track registration and deployment of drones to boost the fight against desert locusts.

Stephen Njoka, director of the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA), said that drone technology is better placed to boost the war against the voracious pests in the region. “The deployment of drones is a key breakthrough in surveillance of the locusts, even though they are yet to be useful in spraying due to their limited load capacity,” Njoka said during a virtual briefing in Nairobi. He said that satellite imaging and computer based applications are an indispensable tool in pest management.

The greater Horn of Africa region is currently facing one of the worst infestations of desert locusts, triggering crop losses and worsening food insecurity. Daniel Willy, program officer with African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), called for a regional coordinated approach and harmonized regulations for emergency registration of pesticides in managing desert locusts.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that in Ethiopia alone, more than 200,000 hectares of cropland have been damaged by desert locust, resulting in loss of over 356,000 tonnes of grain.

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