3 September 2008

Ugandan Develops Cotton Pest Trap

Kampala — A Ugandan scientist, Dr. Ben Ssekamatte, has developed an anti-bollworm pest trap.

Bollworm is a pest that destroys cotton bolls. The Ssekamatte Bollworm Trap, which was first tested on organic cotton in Zambia, is expected to salvage cotton production in Uganda.

Uganda's cotton yields have declined from 476,000 bales in 1969 to only 60,000 last year, Ssekamatte, the director of Bio-Consult Uganda, added.

"During the colonial period, Uganda, Egypt and Sudan used to lead in cotton production."

He explained that the Ssekamatte Bollworm Trap works by placing yellow cans, which are opened at the sides, 30 millimetres above the cotton canopy.

The cans attract the worms, leaving the cotton free of the pest.

"Six to 10 adult bollworms are caught in the sticky molasses mixed with water in a yellow container," he said while testing the trap before scientists at Loro and Patongo Dunavant Experiment Gardens in Lira and Pader districts recently.

Ssekamatte explained that since insects are attracted by the yellow colour, farmers usually plant sunflower and cotton in the same garden in an attempt to fight the pest.

However, he noted that the measure was ineffective. "Because sunflower is yellow, it is planted along side the cotton. Instead of bollworms lying eggs on the cotton buds, they deposit them on the sunflower."

"Unfortunately, sunflower dries up quickly, leaving the cotton unprotected for another six months. The second generation of bollworms invades the cotton, damaging most of the bolls," explained Ssekamatte.

Ssekamatte and Herbert Talwana, an associate professor in the Department of Crop Science, Makerere University, also discovered legume trap-crops that attract pests that attack cotton.

The crops include cowpeas and green gramme. "Our main objective is to increase cotton yields by practicing proper organic agricultural systems," said Ssekamatte.

He insisted that it was the responsibility of the Government to conduct research on pests and not ginners.

Dr. James Ogwang, the research director of the National Crops Resources Research Institute and Dr. Tom Areke, a cotton breeder, were among the scientists who were at the experiment centres.

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