The chemicals were loaded and airlifted this morning from Kololo airstrip by ministry of Agriculture and Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) personnel to combat the ravaging pests which have already destroyed acres of vegetation specifically in Okorikeya and Loro villages.
The locusts entered Uganda yesterday at around 3.00 pm through Amudat, Nabilatuk and Nakapiripirit districts in Karamoja sub-region that share a common border with Kenya.
The chemicals to be sprayed include Fenitrothion 96 per cent low volume formulation, which is a phosphorothioate insecticide, Malathion, an organophosphate insecticide commonly used to control mosquitoes and a variety of insects that attack fruits, vegetables, landscaping plants, and shrubs as well as Pyrethroid a special chemical class often used by pest management professionals.
Yesterday, state minister for Agriculture Aggrey Bagiire said that ministry of Agriculture has already prepared both manual and automatic pumps for dispatch early morning to Karamoja. He discloses further that they have in stock the chemicals for spraying some using motorized spray pumps and others manual.
The locusts, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), travel in dense crackling swarms which can contain as many as 80 million locusts per square kilometre. They travel at least 150 kilometres a day and can destroy about 192 million kilograms of vegetation in two days.
Uganda has not had to deal with a locust infestation since the 1960s. FAO warns that locusts can reproduce rapidly and, if left unchecked, the current numbers could grow 500 times by June. A swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people.
“Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts," he said, calling for more ambition for mitigation and, especially for Africa’s sake, more ambition on adaptation and financing to build the resilience of African countries and communities as they battle the locust invasion.
Guterres was addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the annual African Union Summit, a gathering of 55 African nations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa last evening.
He emphasized that although Africa has done the least responsible for accelerated global warming, it is suffering the most devastating effects, calling on the developing countries to rise up ‘for Africa’s sake’ and control their emissions.
“I express my deep solidarity with the people and communities affected. The United Nations has issued an urgent appeal for assistance. I ask the international community to respond with speed and generosity to ensure an effective response and control the infestation while we still have the chance,” Guterres said.
He equally commended Africa’s longstanding moral and political leadership on the climate emergency. FAO has estimated that $76 million is needed to scale up efforts to control the rapid spread of this pest and FAO director-general QU Dongyu has called for urgent action to combat the upsurge. So far, more than $18 million has been donated to the efforts to fight the upsurge.
The agency is already working with local and national governments and partners, supporting surveillance and control operations and initiating efforts to safeguard livelihoods and assist in the longer-term recovery and resilience of those affected.