LocustTrack

Our Vision :

Equipping every single farmer with accessible resources and aid them in making the right choices .

Q1. What is a locust attack/invasion/plague?

When the locusts start attacking crops and thereby destroy the entire agricultural economy, it is referred to as a locust plague/locust invasion. Plagues of locusts have devastated societies since the Pharaohs led ancient Egypt, and they still wreak havoc today.  Over 60 countries are susceptible to swarms.

Q2. Types of locusts -

There are four types of locusts that create a plague – desert locust, migratory locust, Bombay locust, and tree locust. The desert locust is a notorious species. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, this species inhabits an area of about six million square miles, or 30 countries, during a quiet period, according to National Geographic. During a plague, when large swarms descend upon a region, however, these locusts can spread out across some 60 countries and cover a fifth of Earth's land surface.

Q3. How and when do locusts become harmful?

During dry spells, solitary locusts are forced together in the patchy areas of land with remaining vegetation. This sudden crowding makes locusts. Then, when rains return—producing moist soil and abundant green plants, locusts begin to reproduce rapidly and become even more crowded together. In these circumstances, they shift completely from their solitary lifestyle to a group lifestyle in what’s called the gregarious phase. Locusts can even change colour and body shape when they move into this phase. Their endurance increases and even their brains get larger. Locusts have huge appetites.One of these insects can eat its own weight in food in a single day.And they're devastating crops in East Africa, where millions of people are already considered food-insecure.

Q4. What is a locust swarm?

Locust swarms are typically in motion and can cover vast distances—some species may travel 81 miles or more a day. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation. A swarm of desert locust containing around 40 million locusts can consume (or destroy) food that would suffice the hunger need of 35,000 people, assuming that one person consumes around 2.3 kg of food every day. In 1954, a swarm flew from northwest Africa to Great Britain, while in 1988, another made the lengthy trek from West Africa to the Caribbean, a trip of more than 3,100 miles in just 10 days. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage, which can lead to famine and starvation. Locusts occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in subsistence farming regions of Africa.

Q5. Locust Effect on Africa ?

The worst locust outbreak in generations has descended upon East Africa and the Horn of Africa. Without immediate action, 4.9 million people could face starvation this summer. This disaster comes at the worst possible time for countries like Somalia already facing the double emergency of food shortage and COVID-19. Seven facts about the situation on the ground:

  • 1. Desert locusts are extremely dangerous – These migratory insects inflict insurmountable damage in minutes. Even a tiny swarm consumes the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. Swarms have already destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and pastureland in eight countries—Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan—and threaten to spread wider.
    • 2. Five million people are at risk of hunger and famine- As of March, the locust infestation in East Africa has already damaged more than 25,000 kilometers of cropland. Without swift intervention, populations will face mass starvation this summer.
  • 3. A new swarm is hatching – A fourth generation of locust eggs is now hatching, which experts predict will create a locust population 8,000 times larger than the current infestation.
    • 4. Somalia will likely be hit hardest – The Somali government was first in the region to declare a nationwide emergency in response to the desert-locust crisis. Without humanitarian assistance, 3.5 million people are projected to face food crisis between July and September. The region is already overwhelmed by cycles of widespread violence, drought, floods, chronic food shortages, and disease.
  • 5. This the worst outbreak in 70 years – Without expedited preventative measures, swarms will migrate from East Africa to West Africa. “This is the worst locust invasion we have seen in our generation,” says Sahal Farah of Docol, an IRC partner organization. “It destroyed pastures, contaminated water sources and [has] displaced many pastoral households. The worst of all is that we do not have the capacity to control it, and so far we have not received any external support.”
  • 6. Women face increased risk – If harvests fail, the IRC estimates that 5,000 households, especially those led by women, will need urgent humanitarian assistance by August. As food prices skyrocket, women and girls will face an increase in violence and theft as their partners are forced to travel in search of food and work. Additionally, women will be forced to take on additional responsibilities in managing existing farms or small businesses, even as they tend to the needs of their families.
  • 7. More funding is necessary to stop widespread famine – The IRC is calling for $1.98 million to alleviate the desert-locust emergency in Somalia in 2020. We are also appealing to the United Nations and affected countries to continue technical analysis of locust movements along with continued information sharing—before it is too late.

Q6. Crop Failure and Hunger Famine In Africa .

In Africa, hunger is increasing at an alarming rate. Economic woes, drought, and extreme weather are reversing years of progress so that 237 million sub-Saharan Africans are chronically undernourished, more than in any other region. In the whole of Africa, 257 million people are experiencing hunger, which is 20% of the population. Successive crop failures and poor harvests in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Angola are taking a toll on agriculture production, and food prices are soaring. In the past three growing seasons, parts of Southern Africa experienced their lowest rainfall since 1981. As a result of these dire events, 41 million people in Southern Africa are food insecure and 9 million people in the region need immediate food assistance. That number is expected to rise to 12 million as farmers and pastoralists struggle to make ends meet during the October 2019 through March 2020 lean season.Close to five million people in East Africa could be at risk of famine and hunger as the ‘worst locust invasion in a generation’ continues to destroy crops, contaminate water sources and displace thousands of households, a new report has warned.The infestation, which first appeared in the region last June and has already passed through a number of generation cycles, is feeding on hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops across at least eight countries. HISTORY OF FOOD FAMINE – • 2011 to 2012 — The Horn of Africa hunger crisis was responsible for 285,000 deaths in East Africa. • 2015 to 2016 — A strong El Niño affected almost all of East and Southern Africa, causing food insecurity for more than 50 million people. • 2017 — 25 million people, including 15 million children, needed humanitarian assistance in East Africa. In September, inter-communal conflict in Ethiopia led to more than 800,000 people becoming internally displaced. • 2018 — Africa was home to more than half of the global total of acutely food-insecure people, estimated at 65 million people. East Africa had the highest number at 28.6 million, followed by Southern Africa at 23.3 million, and West Africa at 11.2 million. • 2019 — Food security is deteriorating and expected to worsen in some countries between October 2019 and January 2020. Locusts attack across the world   By the end of 2019, there were swarms in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Oman, Iran, India, and Pakistan

As of January 2020, the outbreak is affecting Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. The infestation "presents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa," according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Kenya has reported its worst locust outbreak in 70 years, while Ethiopia and Somalia haven’t seen one this bad in quarter of a century.

They are now heading toward Uganda and fragile South Sudan, where almost half the country faces hunger as it emerges from civil war. Uganda has not had such an outbreak since the 1960s and is already on alert. Uganda has not had to deal with a locust infestation since the ’60s so there is concern about the ability for experts on the ground to be able to deal with it without external support In a country like South Sudan, where already 47% of the population is food insecure this crisis would cause devastating consequences.

Q7.How can locust swarming/attack be prevented?

Weather patterns and historical locust records help experts predict where swarms might form. Once identified, an area is sprayed with chemicals to kill locusts before they can gather.  Historically, locust control has involved spraying of organo-phospate pesticides on the night resting places of the locusts. Intervention in the early stages of a locust outbreak is generally advised.This reduces the amount of pesticide to be applied because the locusts are localized over a relatively smaller region. As an outbreak continues to develop first into an upsurge then into a plague,more and more countries are affected and much larger areas need to be treated. Nevertheless a preventive strategy may not always be effective.Access to infested areas may be limited due to insecurity;financial and human resources can’t be mobilized quickly enough to control an outbreak in time;or weather and environmental conditions are unusually favourable for locust development so the national control capacity is overwhelmed. So,what can be done?

HERE COMES THE USE OF LOCUST LOCATOR

Locust swarm attcks can be prevented with early monitoring of the breeding grounds of the insects. Now,United Nations is already doing this work. Through various ground,air and satellite surveillance techniques,image processing methods,data analysis and a diversified modus operandi,scientists,researchers,biologists are working day in and day out in order to build a model,or a method so that these attacks can be prevented,before they grow to wreck massive destruction and havoc. But,the common man cannot comprehend the need or purpose behind all this.

This is a situation where experts with years of experience,modern technological software,methods and tools at their disposal are still baffled by the unusually high outbreak of the locusts this year.

So what can we expect from an ordinary let alone an illiterate person to do ? How can they know how to save themselves from this raging menace? How can we ensure that they - the pillars of support of this entire urbanised culture and people; survive and continue to prosper?

Here’s where our application is useful. By making an application in their local language and making it easy to use, we remove any challenges the locals might face while taking advantage of our app.

Q8.But,why did we do this?

Being fortunate enough to be able to use technology amidst the comfort of our living conditions,we were discussing about the havoc that this year had bestowed upon humankind,starting with Australian bushfires to COVID-19. And we yearned to do something,in order to make the world a slightly better place,than what it was. We knew that we couldn’t be frontline warriors of Coronavirus alongwith doctors and other personnel,since none of us are associated with medical background. But we had the belief that using our knowledge in the fields of data science,database management,app development;to name a few,we could atleast try to do something to give back to society,and thus was born..GROW N TRACK. So,while browsing for things we could do,we stumbled upon this idea and saw the wonderful initiative Microsoft and the African Literacy Project had taken to organise this Hack for Africa global event.

Q9.What do we do?

Essentially, we track locust and send warning message to the registered users. From the satellite data available,we obtain the locusts location. We keep a record of the user location and when the locust enter the vicinity of the user we warn them via text and whatsapp. For now we used Whatsapp but if we can implement the project with funding and resources then we plan to use normal text messages.

Q10.How warning them is useful ?

It helps them take necessary protection to save themself from such adversities. Also,it has a vital role to play in formulation of future plans

We implemented machine learning in our tracker to predict the direction of movement a couple of days before it happens and try to predict the next possible mass breeding spots.

We also plan to have a feature in which a user can mark a place where they spot the locusts and if we get same marking from a specified radius of the users we alert the concerned authorities and mark the place in our map.

By analysing the data,we found that locusts infested only specific crops,and only during specific time periods of the year. By correlating that with the pH of the soil in those areas,we were successful in building an algorithm that would help them to decide the best crop to be planted according to the pH of the soil,so that they could yield the maximum profits out of their crops,all the while being protected from the problem of locusts ruining their hardwork.

As of April 2020, efforts to control the locusts are being hampered by ongoing restrictions in travel and shipping due to the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to the global coronavirus food crisis. Hence,if we can implement Grow N Track,then surely we can put a huge leap in bringing the whole world to normalcy if the nations can slowly go back to their food production levels before the disaster and hence resume trading activities of food and other products.

Q11. Who are we?

Visit the developers page to know more about us and contact us . We love to work on Projects that helps improve people's lives and leaves a good impact in this world.

Regards- Kartik Agarwal , Anush Krishnav.V , Indrashis Mitra , Nima Pourjafar

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