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The threat

Swarms of millions of locusts can decimate crops in many parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East – leaving behind ravaged fields and putting livelihoods and food security at severe risk. Around 20 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania are facing acute food insecurity due to a desert locust outbreak.

Providing solutions

As part of the LUBILOSA programme funded by the governments of Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Britain and the USA in the 1990s, CABI led an international team that developed a safe and effective biological control product for locusts and grasshoppers. In 2009, FAO reported that the product had effectively treated 10,000 hectares of Red Locust-infested land in Tanzania where otherwise a full-blown invasion would have been caused – threatening the food crops of 15 million people. It was also used again to great effect in Madagascar.

CABI licensed the product to Éléphant Vert and provided the starter cultures from its liquid nitrogen stores. Éléphant Vert is now using its extensive facilities to mass produce and market the product, now called Green Muscle™, across Africa and parts of Asia where it is urgently needed to help in the fight against devastating locust swarms. This video explains how LUBILOSA became Green Muscle™.

Other project work includes the forecasting and monitoring of locusts in China and Laos using data gathered from Earth Observation and environmental data and the control of locusts in Africa using drones as a new technology to complement existing management measures.

Related online products and resources

Plantwise Knowledge Bank -  a gateway to practical online and offline information on the desert locust including prevention and control methods.

Invasive Species Compendium - an online portal providing images, information on the identity, symptoms and signs of the desert locust and distribution maps.

Related Projects

Explore our recent projects from around the world

Project technical workshop in Beijing

Integrating advanced Earth Observation and environmental information for sustainable pest and disease management

Forecasting and monitoring insect pests and disease outbreaks is vital for protecting China’s economically important agricultural sector. By combining information gathered from Earth Observation and environmental data, CABI and partners will design innovative data products and communications tools to help decision makers sustainably manage wheat yellow rust and migratory locusts. A biopesticide development model will also be developed to help end-users decide when to use a biopesticide over a chemical pesticide.

fall armyworm

Action on Invasives

The global cost of invasive species is estimated at US$1.4 trillion per year – close to 5% of global gross domestic product. Invasives disproportionately affect vulnerable communities in poor rural areas, especially in developing countries which depend on natural resources, healthy ecosystems, trade and tourism for their livelihoods.

Improving the rational use of pesticides for locusts in China

Agriculture is very important to China and chemical pesticides are often used to control their associated pests. Biopesticides, which have a low impact on surrounding plants and the environment can be used instead and China wants to switch over to them. Using CABI’s expertise, this project uses Earth Observation (EO) and other data to build a prototype system that provides information on locust control in China.

Other emerging threats

Find out how we are responding to other challenges faced by those around the world