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NUST hands over crop spraying drones to NDMA
Desert locusts and swarming short-horned grasshoppers have been destroying crops in Africa and Asia for centuries. Their tendency to move in huge swarms with great speed makes them one of the most devastating agricultural plagues. In January last year, the locusts flew from the Red Sea coast of Sudan and Eritrea to hit Saudi Arabia and Iran. They entered Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province in March and affected different parts of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and KPK province. Aerial spraying is one of the most effective remedies for destroying and controlling locust swarms, especially for the ones sitting on trees with big canopies, where other solutions might not be effective.

In view of the Locust swarm eating its way across Pakistan, NUST has been actively engaged in fighting its spread through technological interventions. NUST Robot Design & Development Lab (RDDL) is part of the National Centre of Robotics & Automation (NCRA).The centre is a PSDP project aimed at solving socio economic problems through Robotics and Automation, and its Secretariat and two labs are situated at NUST College of E&ME. RDDL has conducted trials of aerial pesticide sprays using agricultural spraying drones in different parts of Pakistan. The pesticide spray operation was carried out in Dera Ismail Khan for locust control, Khanewal and Lalian for white fly control in sugarcane crop, Swabi for pest control in Tobacco leaves, Kharian for organic nutrients in guava orchards, Chakwal for pest control in wheat crop.

RDDL has been collaborating with Shenzen Sunwin Intelligent Company, a Chinese company working on drone technology, for manufacturing/assembling of drones in Pakistan. Apart from other efforts, RDDL has recently coordinated a donation of drones from the Chinese company directly to NDMA’s Anti-Locust Cell. Consequent upon it, 5x drones have already arrived in Pakistan. RDDL has provided configuration and commissioning of these drones, and will impart master training for pilot, flight operation, and maintenance of aerial spraying drones to officials of National Locust Control Centre (NLCC) and Department of Plant Protection (DPP). In this regard a Demonstration followed by handing over of the drones to NDMA was held at NUST-CEME here on Wednesday.

The ceremony was attended by senior officials from NDMA and NUST. In his remarks, Commandant NUST-CEME, said that NCRA is one of the two Centres of Excellence allocated to NUST. It is a proud moment for CEME to have played an instrumental role in equipping and training NLCC and DPP to fight against this national disaster. Member Ops NDMA, appreciated the efforts of NUST and NCRA in procuring the donation and providing training to the personnel from NLCC and DPP. 


National University of Sciences and Technology H-12, Islamabad, Pakistan
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