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This article was originally submitted by Afaq Khan
As we are aware of the locust outbreak in Pakistan since 2019, which has become more serious when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government declared an emergency in southern districts of the province in January 2020.
This was followed by the declaration of national emergency in February 2020 to protect crops from locust attack.
According to the Punjab government statement, “So far crops over an area of 715 acres in Punjab have been damaged”.
The UN agency estimated that the locust attack can cause a financial loss of 600 billion rupees. The government has established a National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) to monitor and control these Locusts attacks. Also, there is a similar or more dangerous situation in our neighbouring countries too.
Traditionally, farmers try to remove these locusts with the help of drums or the loud sound of any instrument. Farmers scatter in the fields all around and chase away the locusts with a loud noise. In Pakistan, the government has taken many steps in this regard. A new project which has been approved by NLCC will entail buying living and dead locusts from local’s communities at 25 rupees per kg. Furthermore, many government officials went to various places to conduct research and assured the farmers of all possible assistance.
How can this problem be solved or reduced with the help of technology?
The world uses technology to solve problems like these. Issues like this required a lot of manpower and hard work but technology handles them very easily. Personally, I think the government should involve students in this kind of projects, engineering students especially.
Like, some of my friends who are in the field of electrical engineering and they are working on a system (device) that has a lot of features; regarding agriculture to help farmers. One of those features or sub-feature is for crop protection from locust attacks; which will basically use a camera to detect them and make a huge noise; using a loudspeaker, to make locusts run away from crops. The system will detect through image processing which uses a lot of programming languages. Therefore, the system or device can distinguish and recognize that it is a locust.
This device will also have the feature that when locusts are detected, they can be sprayed with sound as well as sprinklers. At the same time, the use of GSM technology will also send timely messages to the farmer; on his mobile, and he will be informed about the whole situation.
In addition, this system has other features for sensing soil humidity, temperature, leaf wetness etc. with the help of sensors.
Normally as a whole, this system will work with the help of wireless sensor networks; which are becoming a backbone for precision agriculture monitoring.
An agricultural country like Pakistan, people are not inclined towards technology. On the other hand, if there are such problems, then the concerned institutions should overcome these problems; with the help of technology.