Uganda needs Ugx 5 billion to avert looming locust invasion from Kenya

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Kampala, Uganda – Uganda needs five billion shillings (US$ 1.4m) to avert a possible invasion of desert locusts, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

The announcement comes amidst an invasion of locusts which are threatening pastures and crops in the Horn of Africa. Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a species of short- horned
grasshopper family. It is characterized by its nature of high mobility
(migratory) and broad spectrum feeding habits.

Locust swarms vary from less than one km2 to several hundred
km2. There can be at least 40 to 80 million locusts in each km2 of
swarm. Coupled with its amazing ability to build up and multiply
to colossal numbers, a locust can eat its own weight in fresh food
(about 2 gm/day). Half million locusts weigh about 1 ton and
they can eat about 1 ton of food enough to feed 2500 people.

Reports indicate that a number of large immature swarms have moved south in the Ogaden of eastern Ethiopia and adjacent areas of central Somalia and reached southern Somalia, southeast Ethiopia and, on northeast Kenya. By today, the locusts have been detected in six Kenyan counties of Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Meru and Isiolo.

But there are fears that some of the swarms could move further Western into Turkana county, probably by Mid-January 2020, with likely potential and risk that they could spill over into Karamoja, in the North-Eastern region of Uganda. The area shares a border with Turkana county.

Now the Ugandan government says that it needs to urgently procure aircraft fuel to carry out spraying, pesticides, ground spray equipment and support spray teams and supplement of support from the Desert Locust Control Organization for East Africa-DLCO-EA, which is already offering spraying support to member countries.

State Minister for Agriculture Aggrey Bagiire says that they have written to the Ministry of Finance to release a contingency fund to control the situation. Bagiire says that the ministry wants to prepare ahead of time, and deal with the dangers that the locusts could have on Uganda.

He added that Uganda has also sent a technical team of two officers to Wajir and Marsabit counties in Kenya to understudy the current Locust control operations to subsequently share experiences and support the control efforts in Uganda, in case of an outbreak.

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