At least 13,000 acres of crops have now been affected by the Destructive African armyworms in 41 districts across the country, drastically increasing from 12 districts which were reportedly invaded about a week ago.
The African armyworm is a migratory moth with its caterpillar as the most destructive, majorly ravaging important cereals such as maize, millet and sorghum and pastures that support animals.
Uganda being a largely agricultural country with up to 70 percent of its working population actively engaged in agriculture, a sector that is central to food security and economic growth.
The permanent secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Maj Gen David Kasura Kyomukama acknowledged the increased threat from the armyworms.
“This pest has so far been reported in 41 districts, but is confined to 13,000 acres of crops and rangeland. The arable land of Uganda is several million hectares,” he said.
However, the PS noted that the government is in efforts to neutralize the threat of food insecurity in the country which is already grappling with skyrocketing prices of essential commodities such as soap and cooking oil.
“All the districts that have been affected have been given pesticides. We are giving these pesticides to do two things. Firstly, to show people what to do with them. Secondly, we are complimenting their effort,” he said.
Three days ago, the State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, announced that more than 23,000 liters of pesticides, 100 motorized pumps and 200 sets of protective gear have been procured and distributed to affected districts to demonstrate to communities on effective control of the pest.
The ministry spent around Ugx 600m to combat the pest.
“What we have can only be used for demonstration purposes for farmers to learn and do the same in their gardens,” he said, adding that in maize and other cereals, yield loss as a result of African armyworm feeding goes up to 100 percent.
The Prime Minister, Robianh Nabbanja, has affirmed that the government has bought 23,000 liters of insecticides known as Cypermethrin 5EC to fight the African armyworm.
The revelation was made on the floor of the parliament after the Speaker of Parliament had directed the government to expedite interventions and ensure that the pests are eliminated.
She added that the government had already procured the pesticides and the distribution process was underway.
“Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries has procured 23,000 liters of Cypermethrin 5EC, and is distributing it to the affected districts to demonstrate its use for effective control of the pest,” she said.
Nabbanja further advised the affected farmers to spray the caterpillars with Cypermethrin 5EC, mixing 100-120 milliliters of the pesticide in 20 liters of water for effective use.
She added that the Agriculture ministry has so far acquired 100 motorized pumps and 200 sets of protective gear for use in the affected districts.