The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in partnership with The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is conducting trainings for a surveillance team to identify a new pest that threatens crops across Africa.
The new pest known as the Mango Mealybug (Drosicha mangiferae) affects mangos primarily, although it may affect other crops such as pumpkins.
“The bug originates from India, Uganda is on alert because it has been reported in nearby Rwanda,” MAAIF officials said.
Mango Mealybug, however, has not been reported in Uganda, thus the call for immediate surveillance to monitor the spread of the bug.
The bug, according to pest experts, sucks sap from the leaves of the host plant, branches, fruits and fruits, triggering symptoms such as a sooty mold or sticky honey dew on leaves and stems, ants running about on leaves and stem among others.
“As mandated, it is the role of the crop protection department of the ministry to make a provision to ensure the collection, verification and analysis of domestic pests reports. The department is also tasked with surveillance, information source, verification and analysis, and domestic reporting motivation,” a statement from the Ministry reads in part.
Orlando Sosa, the plant protection officer at the FAO sub-region office for East Africa, tasked the team to report the occurrence of the pest, time of outbreak, spread diameters, and any successful eradication efforts.
Meanwhile, management of the Mango Mealybug pest can be carried out following these tactics as Stephen Byantwale, a commissioner in the department of crop protection, explained: “Through sanitation actions such as removal of infested material and proper disposal or destruction, enhanced biological control as was done successfully in West Africa and employing chemical control programs.”
With the training of a surveillance team, the ministry is confident the pest will be controlled before major damage to crops is done.