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FAO using mobile phone tech to fight desert locust in East Africa

Staff Writer | April 29, 2017
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) started using mobile phone technology in reporting desert locust's invasion in the Eastern Africa, a senior UN official said.
Desert locust
Africa   Massive destruction to farmers
FAO Sub-regional Crop Production Officer for Eastern Africa Region Mathew Abang said that community administrators and selected youths have been identified to help in reporting army locust's deserts through mobile phones in the sub region to help hasten control the insects from causing massive destruction to farmers.

"We have resorted to the use of mobile phones following our experience with the management of African army worms that that caused massive damage due to disconnect in communication between farmers and scientists," Abang said this during a stakeholders forum on Fall Armyworms in Nairobi.

He said the approach is set to help harness data by triggering early warning response since it is not easy for scientists to monitor the movements of the insects without the help of local communities.

Abang called on scientists to deploy the approach in the fight against Fall Armyworm that is currently ravaging crops, especially maize in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa countries.

"Empowering communities through capacity building is an approach that should be scaled up in Africa in the fight against the pest as we wait for the scientific solution," Abang said.

The Director of Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) Stephen Njoka told the meeting that one of the solution to fighting Fall Armyworm and other pests in the region relies in the development of insect resistant crop varieties.

"It is time to equip farmers with modern technology and improved resistant seeds to save them from making losses every year," Njoka added.

He said that whereas his organization controls pests using aircraft, most small scale farmers cannot be helped by the approach as they own small farms.

According to scientists, fall armyworm is so far the most damaging insect pest in Africa in recent times.

Food security in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa is under threat by the invasive moth especially in regions where maize is the staple food.

It has so far destroyed 287,000 hectares of maize in the region.