Locusts: pesticides, aircraft flown to Karamoja

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Pesticides at Kololo airstrip ready for airlifting to Karamoja

Government on Monday afternoon assembled pesticides, pumps and a second aircraft at Kololo Airstrip and immediately airlifted them to Karamoja for locusts control.

The surveillance team from the Ministry of Agriculture, UPDF, Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] alongside those of Moroto and Amudat districts are already on the ground, according to government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo.

The government has procured 2,000 manual pumps and 18,000 litres of  cypermethrin and chlorpyrifos chemicals, Benius Tukahirwa, the Senior Agriculture Inspector, Crop Protection Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, told Daily Monitor.

Desert locusts that invaded Uganda through Amudat District via North West Pokot in Kenya on Sunday, and have now spread to Nabilatuk and Nakapiripirit districts in Karamoja region.

Victoria University

Martin Owor, the Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness, in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the process of spraying the pests kicked off today.

He said motorised sprayers that will be mounted on pickups and tractors to spray the locusts have been moved to Karamoja sub-region.

Key facts on Locusts

•       Locusts are the oldest migratory pest in the world. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.

•       The most devastating of all locust species is the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria). During plagues, it can easily affect 20 percent of the Earth’s land, more than 65 of the world’s poorest countries, and potentially damage the livelihood of one tenth of the world’s population.

•       During quiet periods, Desert Locusts live in the desert areas between West Africa and India – an area of about 16 million square km where they normally survive in about 30 countries.

•       Locusts have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances (they can fly up to 150 km per day) and, if good rains fall and ecological conditions become favourable, rapidly reproduce and increase some 20-fold in three months.

•       Locust adults can eat their own weight every day, i.e. about two grams of fresh vegetation per day. A swarm the size of Bamako, Niamey or Paris will consume the same amount of food in a single day as half the population of Mali, Niger and France respectively.

•       If infestations are not detected and controlled, devastating plagues can develop that often take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring under control with severe consequences on food security and livelihoods.

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