Pan-African marketplace Selina Wamucii has launched, on its platform, a free tool called Kuzi that can help farmers and pastoralists predict locust behaviour.
The artificial intelligence-powered tool generates real-time heatmaps of locusts across Africa, showing all potential migration routes and gives a real-time locust breeding index.
Kuzi uses satellite data, soil sensor data, ground meteorological observation and machine learning to predict the breeding, occurrence and migration routes of desert locusts.
Soil moisture, wind, humidity and surface temperature affect the breeding, swarm formation and movement of locusts.
Kuzi sends farmers free SMS alerts two to three months in advance of when locusts are highly likely to attack farms and livestock in their areas, allowing for early intervention.
Alerts are currently available for Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, in the regional languages of Kiswahili, Somali and Amhari, but the plan is for it to be rolled out to the rest of Africa.
Kuzi is the Swahili name for the wattled starling – a bird renowned for eating locusts.
Selina Wamucii in a statement says that, without preventive measures, a swarm of 80-million locusts can consume food equivalent to that eaten by 35 000 people a day, which is devastating to food stocks for vulnerable communities.
The development of the tool coincides with a new wave of locust upsurge, which threatens food security for millions of people, many of whom are already vulnerable.
Farmers can sign up for free alerts with any mobile device, with or without an Internet connection and capture the location of their farm.