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Panic as locusts spread into Moroto District

File photo: Locusts in north east Uganda

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Unprecedented swarm of desert locusts entered Moroto district on Sunday throwing residents in panic. The swarm covering an estimated 30square kilometers entered Moroto through Rupa Sub County and continued their movement south of the district for at least 4 hours.

Dr. Francis Inangolet Olaki, the Moroto District Production Officer told URN that the swarm is the biggest to have entered the country since the first invasion on January 16th, 2020. He said the district is trucking the movement of the locusts to identity the areas where they have settled.

Dr. Inangolet said there was likelihood that the swarm might settle in Nakapiripirit or Napak districts depending on the direction of the wind. He said that they are working with the Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries Ministry to establish the coordinates in each of the areas invaded by the locusts for monitoring and follow up.

There are concerns that the desert locust plague could worsen if control efforts are slow compared to their movement.  Scientists say Desert Locusts usually fly with the wind at a speed of about 16-19 km/h depending. Swarms can travel about 5-130km or more in a day.

On Sunday, residents of Moroto saw the locusts stay in the air for long periods of time, which prompted them to call on government to use scientific methods to eliminate them.   Moses Lomilo, a resident of Katanga in Moroto town wants government to strengthen efforts of controlling the locusts but also consider community involvement.

Raphael Lolem, the Nadunget Sub County LC 3 chairperson wants government to build the capacity of sub county leaders with the view of broadening community participation in the  fight against the pests.

Currently, government is using aerial spray to kill the locusts. Evarist Magara, the Country Manager Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa, says the organisation is waiting for confirmation where the locusts have settled such that they can spray them. The plane spent the better part of the morning spraying desert locusts infested areas in Napak district.  The desert locust organisation was assessing the impact of the spraying by the time of filing this story.

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