Last week on March 3rd 2020, the Minister of State for Animal Industry Hon Bright Rwamirama said that Uganda was still lacking aerial chemicals to spray desert locusts that have invaded five sub regions in the country.
This meant that the aircraft that was rendered by Desert Locust Control Organisation (DLCO) of East Africa to fight the hoppers was still lying idle as only the ground spray done by the army (UPDF) was progressing.
Today, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Hon Vincent Sempijja said the chemical is still hard to obtain due to a huge competition across the world.
“The specialized pesticide formulation for aerial spraying (Fenitrothion 96% ultra-low volume) is a challenge to obtain due to the current wave of desert locust outbreaks in the horn of Africa, Middle East and the East African region. There is a lot of competition from all over the globe to this one or two producer of this chemical.”
“Our original order has been delayed due to strict measures also by the Kenyan Government which required pre – shipment inspection in Japan which takes two weeks,” Sempijja told reporters.
He however added that the supplier, Twiga Chemicals has been able to make a partial delivery of 400 litres and now awaiting the delivery of full consignment.
Kenya he said is also faced with the same challenge of ready availability of the chemical.
The first swarm of desert locusts invaded Uganda on February 9th 2020 and have spread to five sub regions of Teso, Lango,Acholi, Sebei and Bugisu.
The current affected districts include Amudat, Nakapiripiriti, Nabilatuk, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong, Kalenga, Abim, Otuke, Napak, Katakwi, Amuria, Soroti, Ngora, Kumi, Kween, Bukwo, Agago, Kitgum Lamwo, Pader, Bulambuli, Bukedea and Sironko.
The Minister noted that the existing swarms have not caused significant damage to the vegetation cover but added that there is an eminent threat when the eggs hatch into hoppers in the next weeks as has been the case with neighbors Kenya.
On the 3rd March 2020, a new swarm which was a mixture of mature and immature adults entered Uganda and covered 4 square kilometers.
The following swarm which settled in Kidepo valley National Park on 6th March, Sempijja said was spotted flying towards South Sudan and the Ministry is in talks with Uganda Wildlife Authority to map out areas invaded by the hoppers.
“On 6th March 2020, the swarm that had settled in Kidepo valley National Park was seen flying towards South Sudan and we are in discussions with Uganda Wildlife Authority to begin mapping out areas of desert locusts invasions in the National Parks for targeted Control.”
He said maps are being developed to guide the control of nymphs which are most destructive by aerial and ground control.
The ground spraying by the army (UPDF) has consistently been done in districts that are affected.