The Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Hon Vincent Sempijja has revealed that due to outbreak of COVID19, Uganda has failed to get aerial spray chemicals to fight locusts.
“The 10,000 litres of Fenitrothion 96% ultra-low volume (ULV) has not been received due to limited aircrafts flying out of Japan due to COVID 19 challenge. The absence of this chemical hinders the use of aircrafts which are much more efficient than ground operations,” said Sempijja.
“The 86,000 litres of Fenitrothion 96 ULV is still not delivered due to COVID 19 challenges both at manufacturing facility in Japan and formulation facility in Nairobi,” he added.
Sempijja however noted that supplier (Twiga Chemicals industries limited) is endeavouring to get methods of shipping the chemical to Nairobi.
On Friday 3rd April 2020, larger swarms of locusts invaded Uganda and are currently in the districts of Kumi, Katakwi, Otuke and Agago.
Sempijja said the swarms are larger than previous swarms that entered Uganda, immature, much more destructive and can lay eggs covering 5 to 10 square kilometers
The previous 9 swarms which entered Uganda in February are causing fear that anytime the laid eggs will hatch and the riskiest districts are Amudat, Nakapiripiriti and parts of Acholi, Lango and Teso.
The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries in collaboration with Desert Locust Control Organisation (DLCO) of East Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) Sempijja said have built capacity of UPDF, extension workers, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Local Government staff.
“To date, 2045 UPDF soldiers have been trained and deployed, 85 UWA staff, 385 extension staff and 450 other district Local Government staff have been trained and deployed,” he added.
The Government of Bulgaria offered an aircraft to facilitate aerial spraying and the Ugandan Government will be responsible for providing Chemicals, fuel and accommodation for the crew.
Chinese Government has donated 50,000 litres of malathion ULV, 500 pieces of hand held ULV sprayers, 500 pieces of knapsack motorized sprayers, 40 pieces of unmanned air vehicles and 2000 sets of protective gear.
FAO donated 4 ULV vehicle mounted sprayers, 10 motorized spray pumps, 10 manual spay pumps and 100 pieces of helmet head gear, 100 pieces of safety goggles and 100 sets of respirators.
World Food Programme (WFP) has donated 5 fully serviced trucks, mobile stores for storage of equipment in the field.
Meanwhile, the Minister said they are encountering the challenge of shortage of nose masks as there is stiff competition for them since they are also being used to protect communities from Coronavirus.