Wind blew away locusts back to Kenya- minister

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A UPDF soldier sprays locusts in Northern Uganda

Cabinet Minister for Karamoja Affairs, John Byabagambi, has said the wind blew the locusts that had invaded the country all the way back to Kenya.

The minister was speaking to Mbarara town based TV West.

“Locusts were blown by wind back to Kenya,” he stated.

Byabagambi who was speaking in Runyankole said the destructive pets were blown away by wind through Arua district and back to Kenya where they originated.

Victoria University

This is the same minister who had developed a five-step fool proof plan to end the locusts scourge.  

“In Uganda, I know we eat grasshoppers but I hear we also used to eat locusts. I think we need to alert people in time, when they arrive in Uganda, we catch them and eat them. When we eat them and spray them, we will defeat them,” he told NBS television.

Works-and-transport-minister-Eng-John-Byabagabi

Regional meeting

Government has said it plans to call a regional meeting to devise means to deal with the desert locusts breeding area in the war-torn Somalia, which has been blamed for the current locust invasion in Uganda and Kenya.

Lt Col Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Agriculture in charge of Animal Husbandry, made the revelation while briefing Parliament during plenary sitting.

“These locusts have been breeding in an area where there is war in Somalia. We are planning to call a regional meeting over the same so that we deal with the situation in Somalia,” Lt Col Rwamirama said.

According to the February 10 Desert Locust situation update by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), breeding continues in the Horn of Africa, which will cause locusts to increase further in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya with new swarms forming in March and April.

Consequently, there is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the region.

Spending Shs22bn

The country representative of Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa (DLCO-EA), Evarist Magara, said the deployment of soldiers and the rush to start mass spraying of locusts was uncalled for and has undermined the input of experts.

Magara said the locusts were too few to attract such a humongous response requiring billions of shillings.

Prof Ogenga Latigo, an expert in insect sciences and Agago North MP, also concurred on the role of scientists and experts.

“The locust issue has not been well handled with the scientific leadership that ought to define the best way forward,” Prof Latigo said.

UPDF soldiers

Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, said out of the Shs15b received, Shs11.1b was sent to Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa, Shs3.6b was spent on aircraft and Shs300m spent on UPDF operations.

He said the ministry also got an additional Shs7b from government.

The money will be used for procuring chemicals, logistics, protective gear, spray pumps and surveillance.

Additional reporting by Daily Monitor

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