Fighting desert locusts
Desert locusts are again invading Ethiopia and in particular Tigray. For many years locust invasions have not been a problem, but recent climate and wind current changes have blown desert locusts over from Yemen and the Arabian peninslula into East Africa.
The first attack came in November of 2019, then they left the region as the winds changed and as they went through their lifecycle.
Now, after bereeding, they have return in larger numbers than ever, and at harvest time, too.
Our science staff led by Mr Tekleab, head of science, have developed a pesticide and deterrent based on the extract of neem tree leaves and twigs. The leaves are dried, the active ingredients extracted and diluted into a dispersion and sprayed onto the crops and the locusts.
With the help of Mekele University and local government they have tested the spray to ensure it is not toxic to the plants and the soil and that it is effective. After the trials were completed, it was time to go into full production!
The work has been widely reported in local media and now the school has had offers of equipment to scale up the operation. They need to act quickly to help the vulnerable farmers, many of whom have already lost their crops.
Thanks to the power of social media we have been able to see and share the following clips about the work.
Although the presentations are in local languages, the pictures give a good description of the work of our staff.
DEUTSCHE WELLE features the lab, Mr Tekleab and pictures of the trials - the density of locusts can be seen here
TIGRAI MEDIA HOUSE - features Mr Tekleab, and head of the school, Mr Tesfagabir.
SLIDESHOW is from an earlier date and describes earlier trials
Mr Tekleab with the results of the first successful trial in south Tigray
loading a car, before going to Raya for the first full scale trials
desert locust, one of the test subjects at the school
Tekleab spraying a tree of locusts
Success at the trials!