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Armyworm invasion spreads to Kotido district

Armyworms in Kotido.

Kotido, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Farmers in Kotido district are alarmed by the invasion of armyworms which are scaring them from opening up their gardens in the first season of rain.

The farmers in Kotido confirmed that the district has been affected by the invasion of the armyworms, a pest that is causing huge destruction of crops elsewhere in the country.

URN has learnt that the pest hasn’t destroyed any garden because the farmers are still clearing their fields, however there are fears by farmers that it may stay long as it waits for the crops to germinate.

Peter Loruk, a farmer in Panyangara sub county of Kotido district says although the armyworms haven’t destroyed anything yet, he’s worried of planting the only available seeds in the garden because the pest may destroy it yet he doesn’t have any reserve seeds.

“Because of armyworms, I will not cultivate anything because we have shortage of seeds, and if I don’t cultivate I will not get what I need to feed my family,’’ Loruk said to describe his Catch-22 situation.

John Bosco Akore, the secretary of Kotido Elders Council said the armyworms are affecting the farmers who planted crops early because the pest is eating the crops when they are still at seedling level.

He called upon government to train farmers on how to manage the crisis because they cannot just sit waiting for it to disappear yet Karamoja rains are limited.

Akore is worried that the insects may threaten the food security in the district and Karamoja at large if not responded to quickly.

Paul Komol Lote, the district chairperson Kotido says that the whole district is affected with Panyangara sub-county being the most affected, adding that farmers should not worry but instead catch up with the first rains to cultivate as they wait for government chemicals.

Komol noted that farmers may be worried about planting crops but they should take advantage of the first rains to plant crops that can yield faster in order to solve the food crisis in their households.

He observed that the pests have not destroyed crops because they have invaded at the time farmers were still clearing their gardens.

However, Kennedy Robert Okuda, the district head of production department acknowledged that they are aware of the problem and that the district is doing everything to ensure that farmers get rid of this problematic worm.

Okuda noted that with the heavy downpour, there are high chances of the armyworms dying and therefore the farmers should not worry more.

He confirmed to URN on phone that they sent a team on the ground to ascertain the magnitude of destruction in the fields, then write a report to the ministry of agriculture for further management.

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URN

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