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More Swarms of Desert Locusts to invade Uganda- Scientists

By Harriet Asingura
Scientists have warned that large swarms of desert locusts are to invade Uganda from Kenya between June and July, coinciding with the start of the harvest season in the region. Swarms of ravenous locusts invaded several districts in Eastern and Northern Uganda at the beginning of this year from Kenya where they had destroyed hundreds of square kilometres of plantations.
MAAIF Minister Vincent Ssempijja (left) handing over a plaque to Russian Ambassador to Uganda Alexander Polyakov
According to a report issued by a surveillance team from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa and the World Food Programme,  millions of eggs are currently being hatched in several parts of Kenya which poses a danger to Uganda.

While addressing journalists on Monday, Vincent Ssempijja the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) noted that Uganda currently has no desert locusts, as the last big swarm that had invaded the country in March was aggressively tackled by the joint task force hence fled to South Sudan. “The last swarm was seen on May 26, in the northeast district of Kaabong,” noted minister Ssempijja.

FAO has designated the desert locust upsurge in East Africa as one of its highest corporate priorities this year. The agency however says that the situation is particularly worrisome in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya where swarms of desert locusts are extremely large, highly mobile and are damaging food crops and forage.

Ssempijja however says, although Kenya didn’t do a good job like Uganda in killing the locusts and not to allow their eggs to hatch, this time around Uganda is more prepared to tackle them if they invade the country again.

Alexander Polyakov (right) handing a dummy cheque of US$3m to MAAIF Minister Vincent Ssempijja

During a brief ceremony at MAAIF offices on Monday, H.E Alexander Polyakov the Russian Ambassador to Uganda, donated US$3m through FAO to fight  against desert locusts in Uganda. “Our contribution will be used to purchase pesticides, fuel, vehicles and sprayers as well as for the employment and training of personnel for pest elimination. During these challenging  times amidst  the covid19 pandemic, this donation came at a causal moment to scale up efforts of the Ugandan government in the fight against desert locusts,” remarked H.E Polyakov.

In March this year, MAAIF received four double cabin vehicles with mounted spray equipment, ten motorised sprayers and ten knapsack sprayers from FAO. The agency also donated 100 assorted protective gear including helmets, overalls, safety googles, gumboots among others.

Pius Wakabi the MAAIF permanent secretary earlier noted that government has so far procured and dispatched 500 motorised spray pumps and 2000 Knapsack spray pumps with an assortment of protective equipment. “Government has far mobilised Sh22b from its treasury and various development partners have come on board to facilitate implementation of desert locust control plan,” explained Wakabi. The MAAIF Permanent secretary also revealed that Bulgarian president had offered to Uganda an Air craft to support aerial control activities through spraying.

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