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FAO PROVIDES MORE SUPPORT TOWARDS THE FIGHT AGAINST THE AFRICAN MIGRATORY LOCUSTS IN ZAMBIA

By JOSIAH MPOFU
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has donated electronic gadgets to the Ministry of Agriculture valued over K1,500,000.
The gadgets include; 185 Android Tablets, 17 Laptops, 19 Binoculars and various accessories meant to enhance reporting of the African Migratory Locusts(AML) and Red Locusts (RL) pests by Agricultural extension officers and the community.
“The procurement and provision of android tablets and laptops to the Camp Extension Officers and District Locust Focal Point Persons will help to disseminate Locusts related issues and other pests that have potential to cause harm to both crop and livestock production,” Ministry of Agriculture, under the Department of Agriculture, Principal Agricultural Officer, Morton Mwanza said.
Mr Mwanza said that the gadgets have since been distributed to selected districts in Southern, Western and Central provinces.
He expressed gratitude to FAO for donating electronic gadgets to the Ministry of Agriculture as it will assist in the information management system of the devastating pests.
Mr Mwanza said that the early reporting of the pests was critical in the strengthening of the early warning system in the affected areas.
He disclosed that FAO in collaboration with other partners developed an Application called the E-Locust3m which will be used to report the locusts.
Mr Mwanza explained that the initiative aims at improving early warning systems by enabling rapid detection of locust outbreaks in locust prone areas.
“Reporting will be through the use of the E-Locust3m Application which was developed by FAO with their partners. This innovative technology helps to improve early warning by enabling rapid detection of locust outbreaks and green vegetation likely to become sites of locust infestations,” Mr Mwanza explained.
The e-Locust3M App enables field staff to gather data and transfer it in real-time via satellite from the field to their national locust centres. The staff was expected to use the App for reporting every time they go out for locust surveillance.
Mr Mwanza narrated how the App works, stating that the user in the field enters the data into the eLocust3m app where it is saved and uploaded when internet connection is available.
He added that the information is then sent to the Ministry of Agriculture who later checks and uses it for planning, surveillance and control purposes.
Mr Mwanza however said the current situation of locust manifestation is relatively calm and no swarms have been observed in all affected districts except a few in Simalaha plains of Kazungula and Sesheke, Sioma, and the Kafue flats of Namwala and Itezhi-Tezhi districts.
He observed that the level of infestation does not call for any emergency control and the field staff was on the ground to keep a close watch through regular monitoring and surveillance.
And Kazungula Senior Agricultural Officer, Tundu Kaonga has appreciated the gesture noting that, it will assist field staff to report the locusts’ infestation effectively as they previously lacked proper gadgets for ease information management of the AML and RL. -NAIS

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