Warm weather hampers efforts to fight locusts

Monday February 17 2020

Invasion. A swarm of locusts in Nakapiripirit

Invasion. A swarm of locusts in Nakapiripirit District on Friday. The insects’ mobility is proving a challenge for the spraying team. PHOTO BY LEONARD MUKOOLI 

By Monitor Team

Warm weather, which favours the spreading of destructive and migratory desert locusts is hampering government’s efforts to contain the invasion of the insects in Karamoja Sub-region, Daily Monitor has learnt.

The commissioner for Disaster Preparedness in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Martin Owor, said spray teams in the affected districts are finding it hard to target the insects due to the current warm weather, which enables them to fly away with ease.

“The locusts relocated to Tokora area, still in Nakapiripirit District, where spraying was to take place today [Friday] but warm conditions were favouring flight of the locusts. Spraying, therefore, did not take place,” Mr Owor said in a statement issued on Friday.

On Saturday, Mr Owor told Daily Monitor that when it is warm, the locusts’ wings are strong, enabling the insects to fly.

“The only option left to the ground spraying team is to wait and spray early in morning and evening hours when the insects cannot easily fly,” he said.

Mr Owor, however, said since the spraying exercise started in the affected districts, millions of locusts have died. “In Nakapiripirit, 3sq kms were sprayed and millions of locusts died. In Amudat District, 1 sq kms was sprayed and they died. The locusts, however, had settled in an area stretching 11 Sq kms in the two districts,” he said.

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The commissioner also maintained that the government has also put in place enough measures to control the spreading of the locusts.

“We have infrastructure in place, including ground and aerial spray teams, because more and more locusts are still coming to Uganda from Somalia. We are prepared,” he said.

Mr Rogers Wagonda, the assistant entomologist in Sironko District, said the government should put more efforts in controlling the breeding cycle of the locusts.

“The government needs to do more in controlling the breeding circles because locusts breed mostly in soils, where they lay their eggs,” he said. On Friday, a big swarm arrived in Amudat District and eventually settled in Komoret Village.

Another swarm was seen in the neighbouring Lagoro and Omiya Anyima sub-counties of Kitgum and another in Agago District. Some of the insects later flew to Karenga and Kaabong districts.

Maj Gen Sam Kavuma, the deputy commander of the Land Forces, said the deployed soldiers are overwhelmed by the increasing number of swarms of locusts in the area. Gen Kavuma added that government needs to deploy aerial spraying mechanisms as the soldiers spray those on ground.

Mr Aggrey Bagire, the State minister for Agriculture, applauded the army for working towards eliminating the locusts.

“The locust behaviour is complicated and has continued to confuse us every day but we have encountered some swarms and killed about three million locusts so far,” Mr Bagire said.

Compiled by Fred Wambede, Leonard Mukooli & Steven Ariong

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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