Kazakhstan tackles locusts from space
Locusts are a costly menace to the region
By central Asia correspondent Catherine Davis
Kazakhstan has unveiled plans to use satellite technology to help tackle its growing and costly locust problem.
The Kazakh Space Research Institute has joined forces with a Canadian company, Radarsat International, to use satellite data and information on the ground to map and predict infestations of the insect.
Radarsat says the plans could mean a 60% drop in the amount of pesticides used
Each year, locusts swarm across the steppe like a moving carpet, devouring crops and vegetation.
Kazakhstan takes preventative measures, but since the end of the former Soviet Union, experts say the locust problem has been getting worse. Many Kazakh farmers can no longer afford to buy the pesticides needed. Land has also been abandoned.
It is estimated the country would need some $90m to adequately treat locust-affected areas; a fraction of that is available.
Kazakhstan is an important wheat producer - third in the region after Russia and Ukraine.
Concerned about crop damage, it has sought international assistance.
Locust swarms: An annual feature in Kazakhstan
The Radarsat project will focus on a number of sites across the country.
Meteorological data, plus information on soil moisture and locust density, will be used to pinpoint high-risk areas for infestations. These areas can then be targeted for spraying.
Radarsat says this could mean a 60% drop in the amount of pesticides used. It's also hoped the technology will help to predict the direction of locust migrations.
The idea is to give Kazakhstan a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to find the locusts before they find the country's crops.
The system could also be extended to neighbouring countries.
“They have...left my fig trees broken; they have plucked them bare and stripped them of their bark...The fields are ruined...Despair you farmers, wail you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. Like a blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes...the land is as Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them...”
Locust plagues are incredibly destructive and downright terrifying. Huge clouds of three-inch-long grasshoppers suddenly appear out of the sky, land on fields and forests, and eat until no green remains, before moving on to wreak havoc elsewhere.
Different species of locust inhabit dry regions on six of the seven continents. A single swarm of flying adult locusts can include billions of individuals spread over 1000 square miles, devouring 20 000 tonnes of vegetation in a single day. In 1986-89, a major plague of desert locusts (the species I study) ravaged crops and natural vegetation from Morocco to Pakistan, causing huge losses of agricultural export revenue for developing countries, and hunger for subsistence farmers. Locust plagues are a serious problem.
Historical Setting The book was written early in the reign of Joash. 2 Kin. 11:1–12:21 gives us the background on this period of the history of Judea. This is a true story of intrigue, murder, and national disorder. Joash inherited the throne of Judah as a boy. He had survived Athaliah’s murder of all potential claimants to the throne only through the heroic efforts of his aunt Jehosheba, who hid him in the temple. Joash was crowned king at the age of seven by Jehoiada the high priest, who had enlisted the captains of the royal guard to dispose of the wicked Athaliah. Jehoiada advised the young king during the early years of his reign.
During these years the nation of Judah was devastated by a great swarm of locusts. This catastrophe gave the prophet Joel an occasion to call the people to repentance in view of an even greater judgment to come—the day of the Lord.
Joel’s ministry took place before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 b.c. Joel’s spoke of an impending national disaster already set in motion by the invasion of locusts. His message was also a warning to repent.
Plagues and Devastation are often interpreted by biblical writers as God’s Judgment on unrepentant Israel or also on Israel’s enemies.
•10 Plagues in Egypt - Pharaoh’s hardness of heart
•River’s endless flowing (flood)
•storms - great wind
12 ‘Even now,‘ declares the LORD,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.‘
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
One of the central themes of the Book of Joel is “the day of the Lord” (1:15; 2:1). This language describes a period of time in which God “comes down” in a dramatic way to bring wrath and judgment on the wicked and salvation to the righteous.
God is Lord of time. There is no period that is not “the day of the Lord” in a general sense. But at times God assert in bold, dramatic ways that He is in control.
The day of the Lord is a major theme of Old Testament prophecy. Thirteen of the sixteen prophets address this subject.
The concept of the day of the Lord probably originated with the conquest of Canaan—a conquest which was in fact the Lord’s war (see Deut. 1:30; 3:22; Josh. 5:13–15; 6:2); that is, a day of judgment for the wicked Canaanites (see Lev. 18:25; Deut. 9:4, 5).
The day of the Lord is not an isolated phenomenon or a single event in human history. Periods in Israel’s early history and latter history, the coming of Jesus, and His second advent are all called “the day of the Lord” in Scripture.
The predictions of a coming day of the Lord can be fulfilled in a number of different events. The invasion of locusts in the historic events of the life of Joel was the day of the Lord (ch. 2). But the day of wrath and deliverance that soon fell on Judah in the Babylonian invasion was also the day of the Lord.
While most references speak of future events, a number of biblical texts describe the day of the Lord in terms of past judgments (see Is. 22:1–14; Jer. 46:2–12; Lam. 1:1–2:22; Ezek. 13:1–9). These texts reflect circumstances of military defeat, tragedy, and judgment. Such events may have stimulated the development of the prophetic concept of a future “day” or time of judgment for the disobedient of Israel and all of the nations (see 1:15; Is. 13:6, 9; Zeph. 1:14–18).
However, the day of the Lord is not just a day of wrath and judgment on the disobedient. In some contexts, it also includes deliverance and restoration for the righteous. The day of the Lord speaks not only of future judgment, but of future hope, prosperity, and blessing (see Is. 4:2–6; Hos. 2:18–23; Amos 9:11–15; Mic. 4:6–8).
Joel reveals that this day is to be heralded by heavenly phenomena (2:30, 31) which will bring sudden darkness and gloom on the earth (2:2). It will be a day of divine destruction (1:15) on the nations that have persecuted Israel (3:12–14) and on the rebellious and disobedient of Israel (Amos 5:18–20).
Yet it will also be a time of deliverance and unprecedented blessing for God’s people (2:32; 3:16, 18–21; 1 Thess. 5:2–5).
The Day of the Lord
God’s Salvation, Deliverance, comfort for the Godly
Signs of prosperity, blessing, Spiritual Renewal
Pour out my Spirit on all flesh
Your Sons and daughters
Old men shall have dreams
Young men shall see visions
Even on male and female slaves
Will I pour out my spirit
God’s gifts will be freely distributed to all people
What about you? Has God poured out his Spirit on you?