The deputy commander of the Land Forces, Maj Gen Sam Kavuma, has said the locust invasion has been contained.
Over the last month, desert locusts have entered Uganda from Kenya, spreading across several districts in Teso, Karamoja, Lango, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions.
However, Gen Kavuma, who is the UPDF focal person in the fight against the deadly insects, said so far they have not been able to cause any massive destruction of crops or pasture in Uganda.
“I would like to take this opportunity to assure the members of the public in the affected areas and the country at large that we have managed to control the locust invasion,” he said in Soroti Town yesterday.
Gen Kavuma was briefing State minister for Water Beatrice Anywar and officials from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) who are assessing the impact of desert locusts in the affected areas.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) last month deployed about 2,000 soldiers to contain the locusts through ground spraying, which Gen Kavuma said is having an impact.
“We have been conducting intensive spraying of swarms using aircrafts and ground spraying, and that is why we have managed to contain them,” he said.
“Ground spraying has been more effective than the aerial spraying because, unlike the aerial spraying where you are not sure whether the locusts have died, in ground spraying, we were able to see a number of them dying,” Gen Kavuma added.
The deputy commander of the Land Forces also clarified that the chemicals used for spraying do not cause any harm on the environment.
“All these chemicals were approved by government and I don’t think they can cause any problem to humans and environment,” he said.
Gen Kavuma appealed to government to avail more protective gear to be used by soldiers during spraying.
In her remarks, Ms Anywar faulted some politicians for giving wrong information to the public about the locusts.
“Let us be responsible leaders who can give correct information to our people, because if we don’t give the right information, the public will get derailed,” she said.
The minister said the President is at the forefront of the fight against locusts, a reason government responded quickly. “The President wants all locusts killed, including their eggs,” Ms Anywar said.
Mr Tom Okurut, the executive director of Nema, commended the UPDF for quick response and called on the technical people such as entomologists and environment officers to provide technical support to the team on the ground.
Cabinet last month approved another Shs16 billion for intensifying the fight against desert locusts.
Since 2018, a long period of dry weather followed by a series of cyclones that dumped water in the East African region has created “excessively ideal conditions” for locusts to breed, experts say. The locusts have already hit South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda in Africa. The insects have since fanned out and wreaked havoc on farms from East Africa to India before making their way into Pakistan from the desert on the country’s southwestern border with Iran.