Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhaka Rugunda has assured Ugandans that the country is well prepared to decisively contain the invasion of locusts that threaten to enter Uganda anytime.
In a televised press briefing at the Prime Minister’s office this evening, Rugunda called for calm in the face of an impending locust invasion saying government has put in place all necessary measures to contain the locusts.
In the meeting, it was communicated that a standby force of 2000 UPDF officers trained to fight locusts will be deployed tomorrow to Karamoja to neutralize the locust invasion.
The new development follows a report from the Minister for Karamoja region Moses Kizige on Sunday that the locusts are advancing barely 4KM from Uganda-Kenya border, and likely to enter the country from the northern district of Karamoja
The press briefing was attended by State Minister for agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MIAAF) Hon. Aggrey Bagyire, Minister for Security Gen. Elly Tumwine, and Minister for Local Government Hon. Rafael Magyezi.
Hon. Bagyire said the ministry has been expecting locusts and took measures to train teams of people to handle the crisis, and the supplies were stocked in time preparing for the invasion. He said a team of trained staff, and pesticides, and sprayer pumps will be airlifted by UPDF helicopters tomorrow morning to Karamoja for business.
The team of officials from the ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries including Minister Hon. Musa Echweru and Hon. Bright Rwamirama is out of the country for negotiations on procurement of aircrafts that will be used in aerial spraying to stop the locusts. He promised to issue a progress report on the procurement tomorrow.
He said a technical team was sent to Kenya to learn from their experience ever since the locust invasion hit Kenya last month. The officials said the main intention is to contain the locusts in Karamoja District.
Rugunda also said Ugandan authorities are closely working with the regional Desert Locust Control (DLCO) Organization to ensure the invasion is decisively dealt with.
Officials however appealed to Local governments in affected areas to provide water to mix the pesticides and ensure mass sanitization to avoid panic in public because the issue is being handled.
Security minister Gen. Elly Tumwine said the locusts are a security threat to the country and all security agencies are working closely to avert the invasion. He however assured the public that those ‘small soldiers’ will be defeated.
On the effect of pesticides to the environment, the officials assured the public that the products to be used have been tested and approved for conformity with international standards. The officials said the pesticides are neither harmful to people, nor the environment. He also said there are standard measures followed in use of the pesticides to ensure they pose no adverse effect to the population.
The commissioner MAAIAF said the chemicals used for aerial spraying is a special formulation of an ultra-low volume and a smallest required amount is released for control of the locusts. He said aerial spraying will be in such a way that it is in tiny droplets and on target to ensure targeted delivery.
The commissioner said the chemicals to be used include Phenitrothion 95% in ultra-low volume formulation, Malathion ultra-low volume formulation, but also Pyrethyroid insecticides will be used for ground level spraying. He said all these are environmentally acceptable.