Ugandan govt considers aerial spray against Fall Armyworm

Aerial Spray Against Fall Armyworm
Ugandan govt considers aerial spray against Fall Armyworm. Courtesy Photo.

The Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Ministry is considering aerial spray to combat the Fall armyworm.

The Fall armyworms are caterpillars that march across the landscape in large groups feasting on young plants, leaving devastation in the fields.

The latest information suggests the worm, originally from South America, has spread to 62 districts in Uganda leaving farmers crying foul.

The State Minister for Agriculture Christopher Kibazanga says the Fall armyworm has ravaged gardens and may plunge the country into food insecurity.

According to the Minister, the Fall armyworms have become resistant to some of the pesticides that were recommended by Ministry making the fight more complicated. The recommended pesticides are Rocket, Striker, Engeo and Dudu Fenos.

He says the ministry will receive a consignment of 10,000 liters of Pesticides last week for free distribution to farmers. Kibazanga says the Ministry is considering using aerial spray should the worms persist.

The government’s efforts come at a time when agrochemical shops in Luweero run out of pesticides leaving farmers crying foul.

At least 300,000 litres of pesticides have been bought by farmers since the outbreak of the Fall armyworm, according to Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister, Vincent Ssempijja.

Haruna Kasirye the Luweero District Agriculture Officer says the pesticides run-out of shops at a critical stage when farmers were moving to the next phase of spraying. He has welcomed the move by government to donate free pesticides to farmers, saying it will be a big relief.

Jane Namugambe, a resident of Kabanyi village in Luweero Sub County is among the farmers whose maize is under attack by the Fall armyworm. She blames government for taking long to respond to the problem.

Namagambe says the interventions by government may contribute very little, since the worms have destroyed several gardens.

Another farmer, Josephat Mwanje says the 10,000 liters of pesticides may not be sufficient for farmers in the 62 districts that are affected.

The Fall armyworm can cause crop losses of up to 73 percent. Once it is at an advanced larval development stage it can become difficult to control with pesticides.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that following the spread, Zambia, another African country in the Sub Saharan region, lost more than 90,000 hectares of maize to the pests.

Malawi lost 17,000 hectares, Zimbabwe reported a potential 130,000 hectares affected, while in Namibia, approximately 50,000 hectares of maize and millet were damaged.