Introducing innovative and environmentally friendly technologies for locust management in Kazakhstan
The overall goal of the “Locust-Tec” project is to contribute to improvement of the locust management strategy in Kazakhstan. The main focus is put on multi-disciplinary approaches and close international cooperation between two countries. Moreover, we focus on introducing innovative technologies and environmentally friendly techniques in the areas of locust outbreak forecast, locust habitat monitoring, and locust control.
Locust infestations are a serious threat for agriculture production, regional food security, and the environment. They may cause severe economic damage and hunger crises, destroy farmers’ livelihoods, and produce environmental devastation within large areas. Due to the environmental preferences of swarming locust pest species, dryland areas worldwide belong to the most endangered regions. The Italian, the Moroccan, and the Migratory locusts species can dramatically jeopardize food security and livelihood in Central Aisan countries. The areas that have to be surveyed are large, which is the major challenge, especially for a country of the size of Kazakhstan. Climate change is another trigger of increasing of the locust’s range in Kazakhstan and locust territories are expanding. Additionally, changes in land management practices and land-surface treatment resulted in large number of abandoned fields, which have created preferable conditions for locusts. The risk of agricultural and environmental damage by locusts in the region is very high. From 2006 to 2014 infested areas in Kazakhstan have almost quadrupled.
The government of the Republic of Kazakhstan stresses the importance of better monitoring of spread of dangerous organisms and need for control of diseases in the “Agribusiness 2020” strategy. In the framework of the Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA), the Committee on Agrarian Politics, Natural Resources and Ecology initiated the work on developing a unified information system on biological hazards (UIS Biohazard) for all CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, including Kazakhstan. The three locust species mentioned above were included as one of the biohazards. In this context the “Locust-Tec” project Locust-Tec which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) aims to contribute with further development in term of improved and sustainable locust management. Within the project the main objectives are: (1) Development of novel spatial-temporal information products from satellite and climate data for locust outbreak forecast (2) Introduction of innovative monitoring techniques for locust surveys including vast and remote areas that are difficult to reach on ground, (3) Development of environmentally friendly locust control methods that are less harmful to humans and the environment than commonly applied insecticides, (4) Contribution to monitoring agricultural areas and support their management as a side-effect of developed datasets and techniques. The project team consists of companies and research institutes as well as potential stakeholders.