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COVID-19 complicates efforts to fight desert locusts

FILE PHOTO: Desert locusts

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The outbreak of the COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges in the fight against desert locusts that have resurfaced in parts of Uganda.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says that they are currently unable to buy nose masks because of the stiff competition for them with countries that want to protect their people from the virus. They were also unable to get some of the pesticides that they use to spray locusts.

“The 8600 litres of the fenitrothion 96, ULV is still not delivered due to COVID-19 challenges both at the manufacturing facility in Japan and formulation facility in Nairobi,” Ssempijja said.

He added that there is an urgent need by the government to engage the government of Kenya to see that the newly hatched locusts don’t cross to Uganda. He said that the country had already been invaded by the second wave of locusts that are already causing havoc in the districts of Kumi, Katakwi, Otuke, Agago, Amudat among others.

He said that unlike during the first wave, this time, the country has been invaded by immature adults which are still in the growth stage hence feed heavily and are likely to cause a lot of destruction in the areas which have been invaded.

Ssempijja said that the government has so far released 22 billion Shillings to help in the fight against the locusts.

The cabinet also approved another additional 16 billion Shillings for the same effort although the ministry is yet to receive it. The government has also received varying support from countries such as China, Bulgaria and organizations like the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organization.



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