KAMPALA – Unusual weather and climate conditions, including widespread and heavy rains, have contributed to a serious and widespread Desert locust outbreak to 24 districts, threatening rural food security and livelihoods Northern Uganda.
The minister of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries Vincent Ssempija in a statement said swarms of desert locusts continue invading Uganda from neighbouring Kenya through Karita and Loroo sub-counties in Amudat District in Karamoja sub-region, after having ravaged several parts of Kenya, causing food shortages.
Mr. Ssempijja said the desert locusts have since been sighted in 24 districts in Teso, Lango, Acholi, Sebei and Bugisu sub-regions.
The affected Districts as of 6th March, 2020 include: Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Nabilatuk, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong, Karenga, Abim, Otuke, Napak, Katakwi, Amuria, Soroti, Ngora, Kumi, Bukwo, Kween, Agago, Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader, Bulambuli, Bukedea and Sironko.
Whereas the existing swarms have not caused significant damage to the vegetation cover, the Minister said there is an imminent threat to food security when the eggs hatch into hoppers in the next few weeks as has been the case with our neighbour, Kenya.
“The swarms, however, continue to spread to other districts and possibly laying of eggs is expected to continue while our efforts to control the adult locusts continue,” he said.
“On 3rd March 2020, a new invasion of the desert locust (4 square kilometres) arrived in Bukwo District covering 3 villages of Ariyowet, Kapambar and Kaptobole in Kapswamatule sub-county.”
The swarm, he said was a mixture of immature and mature adults and the UPDF immediately swung into action by spraying them.
“It is worth noting that the immature adult locusts are the most destructive stage of the desert locust as swarms can feed on 100 tons of vegetation per day while on March 6, 2020, the swarm that had settled in Kidepo Valley National Park was seen flying towards South Sudan.
“We are in discussions with Uganda Wild Life Authority to begin mapping out areas of desert locusts’ invasions in the National Park for targeted control. This is in line with the preservation of the eco-system in the National Park,” the minister said adding that “with the planting season around the corner, it is of paramount importance that the desert locust invasions are completely brought under control to avert a potential food crisis.”
Mr Ssempijja said ground spraying by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces continues to be undertaken in areas where the desert locusts have been sighted.