9 January 2014

Uganda: Pests Hit Luuka Cotton Farmers

Cotton farmers in Luuka district are counting their losses, after pests ravaged their gardens.

One such a farmer, Hamuza Isooba, from Bugambo village in Ikumbya sub-county, says the anxiety was heightened when the pests resisted common solutions.

"The cotton stainer attacks the bolls and leaves. I tried to apply pesticides but the pests couldn't go," Isooba says.

He estimates that from his two acres of land, he will now get 1,300 kg as opposed to the anticipated 2,000kg."

John Kalulu, another farmer, is yet to quantify how much he has lost this season, but he expects the figure to be quite troubling.

"I tried to apply pesticides but the pests continued destroying my garden. Later I discovered that they [pesticides] where fake," he said.

Some farmers, however, are said to have used the wrong pesticides. Recently, officials from the Cotton Development Organization, led by Douglas Bhosopo, toured the district to find a solution to the problem.

"It attacks the bolls of the plant and in every 10 days it produces 300 siblings. It should be sprayed very fast by using diamathoid, Karad and Separkart pesticides," Bhosopo told farmers at Bugambo village.

The farmers used the occasion to complain about low cotton prices, and appealed to the officials to intervene.

"We have a problem of low prices of cotton. The Shs 1,100 given to us per kilogramme is very little and we ask government to increase it to Shs 1,500," said Moses Waiswa, the chairman of the cotton farmers in Ikumbya sub-county.

They said they incur a lot of costs in buying seeds, spraying and harvesting. Officials explained that the prices were determined by market forces of demand and supply.

They, however, said that government was working on a programme to boost cotton growing in the region. Among some of the interventions is making cheaper credit available to the farmers.

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