Artificial Intelligence Aiding African Farmers in the Fight Against Locusts

A free tool has been launched to assist farmers and pastoralists across Africa in predicting and managing locust behaviour. Kuzi—the Swahili name for the wattled starling, a locust-eating bird—is an AI-powered tool that creates a real-time heatmap of locusts across Africa, displays all possible migration routes, and provides a real-time locust breeding index.

Kuzi can predict the breeding, occurrence, and migration routes of desert locusts across the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa using satellite data, soil sensor data, ground meteorological observation, and machine learning, and uses deep learning to detect the formation of locust swarms. Kuzi then sends free SMS alerts to farmers and pastoralists 2-3 months before locusts are expected to attack farms and livestock in their area.

A swarm of 80 million locusts will consume enough food to feed 35,000 people for a day if no precautions are taken, wreaking havoc on food supplies in vulnerable communities. Early detection and control initiatives, which are important in desert locust management, would provide farmers and pastoralists with a key weapon in the battle against global hunger and food insecurity.

Alerts are currently available for Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia in regional languages of Somali, Amharic and Kiswahili which is spoken by over 200 million people across Eastern Africa.

Despite the fact that the first international anti-locust conference was held in Rome in 1931, Africa continues to be plagued by locust invasions nearly a century later, with the worst locust invasion in 70 years taking place in 2020, threatening food supplies for millions of citizens in Eastern Africa. According to John Oroko, CEO of Kuzi’s founder, Selina Wamucii, “there has to be a better way to do this,” one in which local communities are at the core of the locust war.

The free tool is currently available to users in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda, with plans to expand to the rest of Africa in the future.

Farmers can sign up for free SMS updates using any mobile device with or without an internet connection, grab their farm’s GPS location, and they’re good to go, free of charge.