KAMPALA — Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has clarified that there are no major attacks or outbreaks of tailed caterpillars reported across coffee growing areas in Uganda.
UCDA was responding to The New Vision front page article on April 5, 2022 titled ‘Pests destroy coffee, cereals in 13 districts.’
The article quoted a farmer in Kibinge sub county, Bukomansimbi district who reported what he called destructive long-tailed caterpillars.
However, UCDA says its field staff and National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) scientists work together to routinely monitor pests and disease outbreaks to enable immediate reporting and carrying out of remedial actions.
UCDA says from a joint national survey undertaken by UCDA and NaCORI in February 2022, the national incidence of tailed caterpillars stood at 7%.
“In the past one month, the tailed caterpillar has been spotted in only three sub counties: Kibinge sub county in Bukomansimbi district, Ruhumuro sub county in Bushenyi district and Rugarama sub county in Sheema district,” UCDA says in a statement, adding:
“There are no major attacks or outbreaks reported in other coffee growing areas.”
Damage and symptoms
UCDA says the tailed caterpillar attacks both Robusta and Arabica coffee and in large numbers, it can cause a lot of defoliation of the coffee leaves, particularly for coffee that is neighbouring forested areas.
“The caterpillars feed on leaves, sometimes devouring everything except the mid-rib. The pest is considered minor on coffee but occasional outbreaks may occur and cause extensive damage,” UCDA says, adding:
“Infestations are common during prolonged dry spells which the country is currently experiencing. They later disappear during the rainy season.”
UCDA says it routinely works with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, District Local Governments and farmers to control the tailed caterpillar using a contact insecticide called Cypermethrin 5EC by mixing 100 ml in 20 litres of water.
UCDA says farmers producing organic coffee can spray
their coffee with Nimbecidine 100 ml per 20 litres of water.
“For effective management of the pest and to avoid re-infestation, all farmers in a community are advised to spray at the same time. Constant inspection of the coffee gardens will ensure that the pest is dealt with immediately to prevent it from multiplying,” UCDA says.
The New Vision article further indicated that several districts have also been attacked by the African army worm.
However, UCDA says while the tailed caterpillar is common in
coffee, the Army worm is not, and there have been no reported attacks in coffee farms.
“UCDA shall continue monitoring the situation and advise the general public and coffee farmers accordingly,” the coffee Authority says.