Soldiers in Uganda spray insecticide on trees where locusts swarm ©SUMY SADURNI/AFP via Getty Images
Soldiers in Uganda spray insecticide on trees where locusts swarm ©SUMY SADURNI/AFP via Getty Images

Locusts pose $218m risk to Uganda

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
5 March 2020

The locust swarms plaguing East Africa could cost Uganda $218.3m in lost revenue from crops.

The Uganda Media Centre said based on export revenues earned in 2018, if no action was taken potential losses from maize would be $106.8m. For cotton the figure is $44.3m, for simsim (sesame) it would be $26.6m and for fruit and vegetables it would be $40.6m.

“Collectively this would come to $218.3m per annum potential revenue for Uganda that is at risk from just four crops of the 11 crops at stake if we did nothing,” the centre said in a tweet.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries said locusts were now in 24 districts, including one swarm that crossed from Kenya covering almost 10 sq km.

The ministry said a combination of ground and aerial spraying was taking place. “Government has dispatched an assortment of pesticides, spray pumps (motorised and knapsack) and protective gear to the affected district local governments and ground control operations have been conducted in all the 24 districts, to minimise the spread of the mature egg laying desert locusts,” said a statement.

“The ground spraying has been successful in suppressing the mature desert locust swarms thus cutting off the laying of eggs that would have resulted in bigger populations of locusts.

“More areas for aerial spraying are being assessed and mapped.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said locusts pose an “unprecedented threat to food security” in the Horn of Africa.

The pests, which originated at the India-Pakistan border, have attacked crops in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Uganda. Tanzania and South Sudan are also on an FAO watch list.

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