Parliament has tasked Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to present a report on the African armyworms that are ravaging crop gardens across the country and the immediate action taken by government.
This was during the Tuesday plenary sitting in which a section of Members of Parliament queried government’s action on the black caterpillars that have been reported to spread so fast and threatening food security in the country.
Information received by the House indicates that more than 47 districts across the country have so far been invaded by the African armyworms that have left acres of maize, millet and sorghum gardens destroyed.
Shartsi Kuteesa Musherure, the Ssembabule Woman MP raised the issue as a matter of national importance appealing that government considers that invasion as urgent and intervenes by providing solutions to farmers.
Fox Odoi, the West Budama North East MP and Bukomansimbi South MP, Geofrey Kayemba Ssolo also asked that government should address parliament on the scope of damage by the army worms. They demanded that the District Disaster Committees should investigate the matter and come up with a costed work plan in line with addressing the situation.
Similarly, MP Wilson Kajwengye, representing Nyabushozi County and Bbale County MP, Charles Tebandeke reported to parliament the unprecedented destruction of crops in their constituencies. They said that government should ensure a thorough and immediate response similar to that put in place against locusts.
The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among directed that the Prime Minister immediately assess the situation and report to parliament the measures to be undertaken.
In response, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said that cabinet on Monday got a report from the Minister of Agriculture about the issue and they came up with some resolutions, among which is the provision of pesticides to the different districts that have been affected.
She however added that more districts have been attacked by the African armyworm and appealed for time from parliament so that she presents a comprehensive report on Thursday with a way forward.
Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition demanded that the Prime Minister for now addresses parliament on the actions that government has so far undertaken since the outbreak of the armyworm.
Nabbanja said that by the time Cabinet received a report on Monday, only 17 districts had been affected but the number has now increased to 47 districts. She appealed to MPs to support government in the fight against the armyworm in the different areas.
Dr Stephen Byatwale, the commissioner in-charge of crop protection department in the Ministry of Agriculture recently said that the African armyworm is a migratory moth, whose larvae stage is pest and causes a lot of losses to cereals.
The caterpillars are reported to move in large numbers, attacking crop fields and that invasions are mostly common at the onset of the wet season.
The worst outbreak of the armyworm was reported in Kenya and Tanzania in 2001, where at least 157,000 hectares of cereals were destroyed.