BY UGANDA VANGUARD
MOROTO – Government next week starts spraying Karamoja against the looming threat of locust, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) announced Thursday, February 6th, 2020. This follows government allocation of Shs15 billion shillings for the acquisition of materials necessary to handle and mitigate the locust invasion in the country.
“The Uganda Desert Locust Mitigation Task team led by MAAIF is has hired two air spray planes to be in Moroto in the next 72 hours. Motorized sprayers mounted on pickups and tractors are being moved to Karamoja Sub region. Hand sprayers by a contingent of officers drawn from Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF), Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and MAAIF are undergoing drills and will be on ground next week,” reads the statement.
It further reads, “Household individual volunteer sprayers using pesticides and protective gear from government will also be engaged. District Production Officers in Karamoja Sub-region have already deployed surveillance teams in all sub countries.”
There are unconfirmed reports that another swarm of the locusts have reached Loima District of Turkana country in Kenya. Loima District Shares a Border with Moroto District.
Government has advised the public to stock up on food as a precautionary measure following reports from Kenya that indicate that the locusts have now reached the Samburu and Turkana areas, which are close to the Uganda-Kenya border.
Turkana is about 166km from Karamoja, meaning the locusts can reach Uganda in less than two days.
Locusts can cover as much as 150km a day and a swarm can destroy crops sufficient to feed 2,500 people for a year, according to the United Nations.
Experts estimate that the insects are capable of destroying at least 200 tonnes of vegetation per day.
Since the invasion in Kenya late last month, districts in Karamoja and eastern Uganda have been put on higher alert and the public asked to report to the nearest extension staff any ‘strange grasshoppers’ detected.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) the Horn of Africa has been hit by the worst invasion of desert locusts in 25 years posing an unprecedented threat to food security in the entire sub region, where more than 19 million people in East Africa are already experiencing a high degree of food insecurity.
Irregular weather and climate conditions in 2019, including heavy rains between October and December, are suspected to have contributed to the spread of locusts in the region.