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Track Africa Locust Swarm With Gro’s Daily NDVI Data

03 February 2020

The largest invasion of desert locusts to hit the Horn of Africa in decades is wreaking havoc on local crops. Gro Intelligence’s newly introduced daily NDVI satellite-data series is ideal for tracking the widening locust destruction.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is posting daily updates of the locust infestation, calling it “an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods.” The FAO update for Feb. 3 says swarms are increasing in Ethiopia and Somalia and continuing to move south to Kenya. Other locust swarms are threatening Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and India and Pakistan.

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These maps using daily NDVI data show the decrease in satellite-measured vegetation in East Africa from mid-December 2019 (left) to late January 2020 (right). Since locust swarms entered Kenya in late December, greenness, shown here at the district level, has significantly declined. Northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia have been particularly hard hit. Click on the image to continue to monitor the locust spread on the Gro web app.

Gro’s daily NDVI data provides users with near-real-time insights of plant health and crop condition globally, although cloud cover can obscure measurements on any particular day. Gro also has 8-day and 16-day NDVI data series, which record data over a longer period. While this overcomes the problem of cloud cover, NDVI readings come with a time lag.

Daily NDVI, which is short for normalized difference vegetation index, can be an early indicator of plant stress and is particularly helpful in assessing the impact of natural disasters. The daily NDVI on Gro’s platform comes from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-3 satellites.

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This chart of NDVI, an important indicator of crop condition, shows both the daily and 8-day NDVI data series in Kenya and Somalia over the past three months. While the 8-day series (green and purple lines) is more consistent, the daily series (blue and red) captures the impact of the locust swarms much earlier, as can especially be seen in Somalia in recent weeks. Click on the image to continue to monitor the NDVI data on the Gro web app.

This insight was powered by the Gro platform, which enables better and faster decisions about factors affecting the entire global agricultural ecosystem. Gro organizes over 40,000 datasets from sources around the world into a unified ontology, which allows users to derive valuable insights such as this one. You can explore the data available on Gro with a free account, or please get in touch if you would like to learn more about a specific crop, region, or business issue.

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