Uganda: Locusts - Uganda to Call Regional Meeting

13 February 2020

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 yesterday 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), the deadly insects have spread to Uganda and Tanzania with breeding continuing in the Horn of Africa.

"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," the FAO Locust Watch report reads in part.

The report adds that in Somalia, breeding is "expected to be in progress" northwest, central and southern areas.

Lt Col Rwamirama told Parliament that the breeding places in Sudan and Eritrea have been put under control because they are accessible.

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Members of Parliament tasked government to explain what exactly it is doing on the ground in Karamoja and some parts of Acholi Sub-region where the mature locusts are reported.

The MPs claimed that the Ministry of Agriculture, the team from the Office of the Prime Minister and soldiers deployed to fight the locusts have not yet sprayed the insects.

Mr Hillary Lokwang, the MP for Ik County in Kaabong District, said there have been uncoordinated movements by the teams supposed to fight the locusts because they have not engaged the local leaders who are conversant with the geographical landscape of the area.

"Much as they said the locusts had a brief stopover there, we were informed that on Monday they will spray and they have not sprayed up to today. This money is being used by the team driving from Moroto to Amudat and back," Ms Rosemary Nauwat, the Amudat District Woman MP, said.

The MPs also questioned the reluctance by government to renew its subscription to the United Nations' Desert Locust Control Organisation.

Other MPs suggested to government to put a bounty on the locusts so that people are paid to catch them for either destruction or consumption.

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