The Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja, confirmed that Uganda too is under attack by the armyworm and that it was fast destroying maize and sorghum crops and some species of pasture grass.
Now Shs25 billion is needed to fight fall armyworm which threatens food security; junior Agriculture State Minister Christopher Kibazanga said only Shs10 billion is available.
“We have so far Shs10b towards purchase of pesticides to help our farmers across the country that don’t access to them,” Hon. Kibazanga said, “We also have a government taskforce on ground to help farmers combat the dangerous armyworm.”
The pest was first detected in the three districts of Kayunga, Kasese and Bukedea last year, but according to the minister, the pest has now spread to other districts, including Luweero, Mukono, Kamuli, Kibaale, Kamwenge, Masindi, Nwoya, Mayuge, Kyenjojo, Rakai, Kabarole, Kumi, Serere, Buliisa, Luuka, Kiryandongo, Bugiri and Iganga.
The fall armyworm could cost Uganda unto 450,000 metric tonnes of maize annually, the ministry said.
While addressing journalists at the media centre on Friday, Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said the deadly pest is hard to control and the ministry predicts serious negative impact on the economy.
He said the most affected crops are maize and sugarcane, advising farmers to be vigilant and report the pest attack to authorities as soon as noticed.
The pest is most dangerous during the rainy season. We are yet to be told, however, whether the caterpillars we are hosting are the fall armyworm or the equally dangerous African armyworm than can destroy entire crops within weeks.