Many believed that the type of green bubble-coloured, short-horned grasshopper which was cited in different plantations in Lwega parish was an advance swarm of the highly destructive wild locusts, which have been ravaging plantations in neighbouring Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Buwunga extension worker, Rose Luswete indicates that a swarm of strange insects invaded pineapple plantations, eating leaves and other soft plants. She explains that the community got concerned after realising that the insects were bigger than an ordinary grasshopper, and were not responding to pesticides.
Our reporter witnessed slight damages the insects have caused to the plantations, as seen in the deep holes poked in the leaves. Fulgencio Kiyimba, one of the farmers whose pineapple plantation has been attacked says he is worried that the insects may evolve into more disastrous pests that may devastate crops in the agricultural-based region.
Buwunga sub-county chairperson Francis Kimuli has appealed to the ministry of Agriculture to make thorough studies on the pests and find a reliable response. He fears that if left to freely multiply in the gardens, the insects could threaten food security in the area.
However, Masaka district production officer, Dr Lawrence Mayiga, indicated that entomologists in the region have ascertained that although strange in outward appearance, the insects are not the desert locusts that invaded parts of Kenya.
He explains that they picked samples of the insects for further expert analysis with teams from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which will lead them to possible solutions. Mayiga has asked the farmers to patiently wait for the process that has started off. Government recently set aside Shs 15 billion to combat the expected locust invasion.