Uganda: Govt Secures Aircraft to Fight Desert Locusts

(File photo).
23 February 2020

Uganda response team on desert locusts has received an aircraft from the Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa (DLCO-EA) to help fight swarms of locusts that have invaded the country.

The aircraft landed in Moroto airstrip on Friday evening after undergoing servicing in Nairobi the day before, according to officials on the team.

Mr Evarist Magara, the Uganda representative for DLCO-EA, said the aircraft will be used for surveillance and aerial spray operations.

Mr Magara said the organisation has been central in helping Uganda respond to other invasive pests such as fall armyworm in 2017.

"DLCO-EA supports Ugandan government in control of migratory pests such as armyworm, tsetse fly and quelea birds that eat food grains in the gardens among others," he said.

Mr Musa Ecweru, the State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, told Sunday Monitor in a telephone interview that he was to officially receive the aircraft yesterday.

The locust control experts said the aircraft is the most effective response equipment compared to the use of vehicle mounted sprays and knapsacks, which UPDF soldiers on the ground have been using to combat the locusts.

Earlier this month, minister Ecweru and Lt Col Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Animal Industry, along with technocrats from DLCO-EA, travelled to Kenya for negotiations with the authorities to release the aircraft they used to spray the locusts in the east.

The aircraft, according to Mr Rwamirama, was cleared on Monday by the Civil Aviation Authority for air operations.

On Tuesday, Lt Col Rwamirama said chemicals for aerial spray would arrive in the country by Friday but they hadn't three days later.

Mr Henry Bagiire, the State Minister for Agriculture, yesterday told Sunday Monitor that the ministry experienced a number of delays.

"We don't have the chemical for aerial spray yet, but we shall receive it in a couple of days," Mr Bagiire said.

He added: "Japan, where we are ordering the chemical from is very far. Then a number of countries like Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia among others are also ordering. You can't order and keep it because the active ingredients are supposed to be active at some level."

The special chemical for aerial spray, Fenitrothion, is recommended because of its low negative environmental impact.

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