What problem are you trying to solve?
In 2015 there were 210 million cases and 429.000 deaths. 90% of these in Africa.. A harsh reality. In agricultural areas endemic for malaria harvests are significantly lower than in areas where malaria is less of a problem or absent. Controlling malaria results in less suffering and therefore more economic opportunities for (rice)farmers, their families and cooperatives. Rice farmers and their families often work and live in the middle of large tracts of irrigated land and therefore in the middle of the cause of the menace: breeding sites that produce thousands of malaria mosquitoes. The farmers, companies and rice cooperatives notice that their production and labour input is threatened when farmers and employees are sick or have to look after their sick relatives and they also have to bear health and replacement costs. Less disease, less suffering, more food and improving economical perspectives.
What is your solution to this problem?
Rather than curing people after they contracted malaria, it is far more effective to prevent infection with malaria in the first place by reducing the size of mosquito population with drones. This is what we aim to prove with our pilot project in Kenya this year. Drones are the perfect solution for two current problems with larval control: The difficulties of treating large tracts of land on foot and the high cost of flying helicopters or spray aircraft. With precision farming drones (Agras MG-1S from DJI) we will spray a few selected rice paddies with a biological control agent called Total Impact. Total Impact consists of a biodegradable monomolecular film and a small amount of the widely-used biocontrol agent Bti. This results in a reduction of the water surface tension which makes the mosquitoes drown or unable to breathe. This product is allowed for use in drinking water, is completely harmless to non-target organisms and is non-toxic and biodegradable.
Why are you going to win The Spindle Award for Best Innovation?
With the large-scale deployment of Anti-Malaria drones we can boost the prevention of malaria over large areas. That will not only lead to less disease but at the same time to more food. Controlling malaria results in less suffering, more food production and more economic opportunities. Through combining new green technologies with proven methods of malaria mosquito control, we want to contribute to solving these this two problems simultaneously.