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Now it’s a war, Uganda deploys army to combat locust swarms

It’s for the first time after 1986, the locust swarms have attacked Uganda twice in a season. With the increasing number of countries of Africa under attack by locust swarms, the problem seems to have taken a regional paradigm. It's very difficult for individual countries to succeed in the fight against locusts. This is high time to launch an integrated and coordinated attack against insects to save farmers from food insecurity and poverty which may give rise to several social and health problems.

Rajender KumarRajender Kumar | Updated: 04-03-2020 18:12 IST | Created: 18-02-2020 21:44 IST
Now it’s a war, Uganda deploys army to combat locust swarms
The Uganda People's Defence Force in action Image Credit : Twitter (@africaken1)

The East African countries are facing an unprecedented attack of locust swarms after 1986. According to reports, fresh attacks of the locust were reported in Uganda within the last 72 hours. The problem has become so grave that the government had to deploy the army to combat the locust swarms. Besides Uganda, the locust swarms are also destroying crops in East African countries of Kenya, and Ethiopia, etc.

Locust swarms were reportedly seen coming in Kenya on February 5 from the Ethiopian border. However, some locust swarms have moved towards Uganda, but some are still in Kenya and breeding. The movement of locust swarms towards Uganda has become a matter of concern for the government. After facing wide attacks of locusts in the Karamoja region, the administration in Uganda is very cautious. As the local administration of the Amudat district failed to control the problem, the army was summoned to take the charge. Thousands of acres of crops in the Otuke region are under attack by huge locust swarms and they are also reaching into neighboring Tanzania, said the reports.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Kenya, locust swarms continue to mature and lay eggs in northern and central African counties. "At least one swarm arrived in a tea plantation in the southwest county of Kericho while other swarms have been seen further north in Turkana county. There have been no new reports of swarms near Mt. Kilimanjaro. Aerial and ground control operations continue in most areas," said FAO.

Horrible Sunday for Uganda Farmers

The locust swarms first descended in Otuke village of Northern Uganda. According to reports, the farmers in Otuke village saw the huge Locust swarms descending in their agriculture fields from the side of the Kenya border. Initially, farmers themselves tried to drive them away by using indigenous measures but soon the administration was informed, and army had to be deployed. The Locust swarms have already devasted crops in the neighboring Karamoja region and continue spreading further.

In fact, the problems of farmers in North Uganda are manifold. Earlier, they faced a severe drought from October 2018 to March 2019. This was the first good crop after the drought which is being eaten up by the Locust swarms. Already facing problems of food shortage, food security in Uganda has been hit harder due to locust attacks.

After Amudat, the locust swarms are reportedly fast spreading into the rest of the districts in Karamoja and eastern Uganda. "The Locust swarms have invaded several villages. Otuke district local government is liaising with the Central government to stump out the locusts before they cause extensive damage, a team of the Local Defense Unit (LDU) was deployed to spray the desert locusts using hand pumps." Otuke District chairman, Mr. Bosco Odongo Obote said to media persons. The authorities have also reported movements of locust swarms in 12 northeastern districts between 9-13 February.

Locust Swarms fast spreading in neighboring nations of Uganda

According to reports, some locust swarms are also reaching in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Oromiya, SNNPR regions. If weather conditions continue to be favorable, the mature locusts will reproduce and increase their number very fast. This will make the situation in South Sudan critical in the coming days.

The authorities in South East Magwi also spotted locust descending from Uganda's northern district Lamwo on Monday, February 17. Besides, Ethiopia is also fighting with locusts with its all resources from ground to air as using Ariel spray and ground operations. The locust swarms are also devastating crops in Ethiopian Somali, Oromiya and SNNPR regions. According to reports, locust swarms have also entered in Arush and Mosli. The agriculture scientists have observed adult grasshoppers and breeding in the areas of Beled Weyn, Gaalkacyo, and Garowe.

Asian countries also affected

Besides Africa, several Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arab, Pakistan, and Iran, etc. are also affected due to locust swarms. The reports of the FAO suggest that the breeding of locusts is in process on both sides of the Red Sea such as Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and wherein hopper groups have formed. The swarms are also moving towards Saudi Arabia and Yemen. According to agriculture scientists, the main source of locust swarms in the Asian region has been Yemen from where the locusts moved to Baluchistan and reached to the bordering states of India.

The Way Ahead

Locusts breed fast and spread faster. It's very difficult for a single country to control the locust population. Besides, the East African countries are small and struggling with their local problems. They have limited resources to fight such a large-scale attack of locust swarms. The requirement of effective insecticides and spray facilities is huge. Therefore, there is a great need for an integrated and coordinated attack against the locust swarms. Here international agencies such as FAO could play a major role in providing resources and integrating individual efforts of various countries. It's not just about locusts if the corp destroyed it will lead to poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, starvation and several other social, nutritional and health problems.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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