MAAIF boosts Teso, Karamoja and Lango sub-regions in preparation for war against locusts

LANGO – A total of 23 districts from Teso, Karamoja and Lango sub-regions that experienced invasion by desert locusts in 2020 have received equipment worth Shs 3b, under the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to support their efforts to deal with any future invasion.

The first invasion by a swarm of locusts was reported in Uganda on 9th February, 2020, in Moroto and Amudat districts, before it spread to 26 districts in Karamoja, Teso, Lango, Acholi, Sebei and Bugisu sub-regions.

Between February and October 2020, Uganda witnessed five waves of desert locust invasions which coincided with the regeneration of rangelands and the start of the planting season thus affecting the production of the main staple food in those sub-regions.

Though Uganda successfully dealt with the invasions, the other Eastern parts of Africa and Horn of Africa regions are still under desert locust threat and invasions, with swarms currently active in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

This is according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report on the possible outbreak of desert locusts, published on the 6th January, 2022.

“As the weather situation remains dry in Northern Somalia, limited movement of swarms of locusts is expected to occur,” reads the report in part.

To prepare Uganda for future locust invasions, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has donated a total of 23 motorcycles and 106 solar powered tablets, and assortment of standard Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes; overalls, helmets and safety goggles to the districts of Eastern and Northern Uganda.

Among the districts which have benefited from the donation include; Karenga, Napak, Amudat, Abim, Nabilatuk, Amudat, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Kotido in Karamoja sub-region, Katakwi, Amuria, Kapelebyong, Soroti, Serere, Bukedea in Teso sub-region and Otuke, Agago, Lamwo in Lango sub-region.

The donation is part of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) and the Japan Government under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) contribution towards the fight against desert locusts in Uganda.

The State Minister for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa Abeku, who is also the Woman Member of Parliament Serere district said, the motorbikes are to be used by the extension workers to facilitate their movement to sensitize farmers and communities about crop and animal protection activities since there are currently no locust invasions being dealt with by Uganda.

She revealed that following the invasion of the locust in February, 2020, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture Animals Industry and Fisheries developed Desert Locust Control Strategy and Action Plan 2020-2023, to enhance preparedness and avert any negative effects of desert locust invasions

“Among the interventions of this action plan is; sensitization and awareness creation; capacity building, surveillance, monitoring and mapping of desert locust spread, ground control operations by Uganda People Defence Force (UPDF) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), aerial control operations as well as national coordination and regional collaboration,” said Minister Adoa.

She pointed out that it is against this strategy that the government is continuously enhancing preparedness for desert locust control and implementation, at the same time development partners have hinged their support towards enhanced preparedness in case of any other invasion.

According to Adoa, entomologists say that compared to the past two years where the country experienced five waves of locusts swamps between 9th February to October 2019, there is a potential invasion of swarms later this year because they are only present in North-East Somalia and not in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia where prevailing winds tend not to impede their migration.

District Leaders Reaction.

Silver Ongom, the District Production Officer Katakwi district is grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries and their partners for the donation of motorcycles and tablets and urged for timely intervention from government agencies towards emerging disasters.

He lamented that most often government agencies take time to respond whenever disasters such as floods and famine occur, which gives the community time to grill them.

The LCV Chairperson Nabilatuk Paul Lokol , is equally happy for the donation which will help increase the presence of the extension workers on ground hence improving physical contact between the Agricultural Officers and the local community.

Meanwhile, Francis Akorikin, Stephen Ochola, the Chairperson Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) in Teso sub-region is grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries for the donation of motorcycles and tablets to benefiting districts saying, that he prefers donations in kind to cash.

He is confident that these will ease the movement of extension workers, surveillance, monitoring and mapping of desert locust spread.

Ochola discouraged donors from giving government cash, citing that cash donations are tempting and can easily be misused.

The impact of 2020 desert locust invasion in Uganda.

Anotinio Querido, the Country Representative of Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said, the 2020 desert locust invasion affected close to 750,000 households in Northern and Eastern Uganda.

According to him, unlike Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya that were hit hard by the desert locust invasion, its impact in Uganda was not much.

However, he called on Uganda to use the experience from the three countries as a learning point and prepare for the worst in the near future.

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