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The World Food Programme (WFP) has handed over 5 trucks to Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to facilitate desert locust control activities in the affected areas.
The equipment was handed over to the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi Kasajja by WFP head of supply chain unit Oleh Maslyukov at WFP offices in Kampala on Wednesday.
Maslyukov said rendering the equipment to fight the hoppers is in the interest of WFP.
“This is something that we can offer to the Government to fight locusts because really it is in our interest to join forces. The better crops come this year, the more they will be available on the market for our programs for Ugandan operations and the region as well,” said Maslyukov.
The trucks will be executing activities such as transporting pumps, food for the personnel fighting hoppers on ground, chemicals among others.
The Ministry Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi Kasajja applauded WFP for the effort to counter dangerous hoppers.
“We are grateful for the World Food Programme for this donation. It is going to help us in logistics because down there, our men and women are working very hard, they move long distances in the terrain which is very bad because some of the places are hard to reach but these trucks can reach anywhere.”
“It’s very expensive to hire trucks from the market but this donation from World Food Programme is very helpful,” said Wakabi.
He added that so far, the support received from UN bodies including Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is worth 1.
stated that the trucks will be fully facilitated by WFP in terms fuel, paying drivers among others.
“The trucks have fuel and they will be fuelling them, they have drivers and they (WFP) will be paying these drivers and Government does not have to pay anything on the trucks.”
If the challenge of locusts is not well addressed, feeding the country he said will be a huge problem.
“It’s a real problem which is very big and we need to be worried about it. Let people stop making fun out of this challenge.”
World Food Programme buys Ugandan produce such as maize and beans for the refugees and failure to join the fight against the locusts could decrease the amounts of food it needs.
“According to Wakabi, In 2018, the UN bought almost 200,000 metric tons of food produce for $50 million. In 2019, they bought 53,000 metric tons, while in 2020 they have so far bought 35,000 metric tons of food produce from Uganda. The humanitarian organization says they hope to increase to 100,000 metric tons”.
“You can imagine if we didn’t attend to locusts, all this is bound to be lost in terms of revenue (people who sell) but most importantly the famine that might attack us. You can imagine all this maize being bought is not only for refugees in Uganda but refugees in Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan and the DR Congo.”
“So, the threat is real and the bigger threat is with the nymphs which are going to begin hatching. As you are aware the season is starting in March. It is very close. So it is coinciding with the hatching of these eggs which have been down for two weeks or more. When they come up, there is a possibility of eating the young grains that will be coming up,” Wakabi said.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon Vincent Sempijja said that locusts laid billions of eggs which will put Uganda in grave danger once they hatch into nymphs.
Presently, the locusts have invaded about 28 districts in 5 regions of Teso, Karamoja, Lango, Acholi and Sebei.
On Monday this week, two swarms of locusts entered Uganda from Kenya and Cabinet approved another 16 billion shillings to fight them, making the total budget so far 38 billion shillings.