Status Update and Public Advisory regarding Desert Locust Invasion

Kampala, 25th February 2020. Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries presented a public statement through the media at the Uganda Media Centre today as part of the continual efforts by the Ministry to provide regular status updates and public advisory.

An excerpt from the statement is as follows.

Why the Desert Locust after 70 years?

Following changes in climate across the globe, there have been cyclonic wind movements across the Indian Ocean resulting in heavy rains and as a result creating a conducive environment for massive breeding of the Desert Locusts in Asia and Africa. Consequently, large swarms of locusts from Yemen crossed into Africa through Somalia and Ethiopia and went into Kenya covering close to 30% of Kenya’s vegetation cover.

These are the worst affected areas on the Continent. Eritrea and Djibouti have large infestations as well now.

Over the last week; mature adult swarms have been confirmed crossing into north eastern Uganda and northern Tanzania.

It is worth noting that whereas our neighbors in Kenya took 8 days to respond to the first attack of desert locusts, Uganda took less than 24 hours to respond and reduced the parental population.

The National Inter-ministerial Committee led by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister wishes to inform the public as follows.

State of Desert Locust Invasion in Uganda:

1. Locust Swarms in Uganda have now been confirmed in the following sub-regions: Karamoja, Teso, Acholi, Lango and Sebei. The existing swarms are classified as mature adult locusts that are mainly laying eggs. However, a new swarm of locusts entered Uganda from Kenya through Nakabat, Rupa subcounty at the border with Kenya, yesterday. Our field teams are following the swarm for effective control.

2. It is anticipated that the first swarms that invaded the country on February 9th, 2020 laid eggs; and these eggs may hatch into hoppers – the most destructive stage of the desert locust lifecycle, anytime. Our technical teams and the UPDF are on the ground boosting surveillance to ensure that the emerging generation of locusts is controlled.

3. The crops in the region that may be affected by this outbreak include; sorghum, cassava, sweet potato, maize, millet, simsim, ground nuts, sunflower, cotton, citrus and mangoes

4. Cost Benefit Analysis: Government of Uganda recognizes that whereas the funding provided to control the locust invasion is being utilized and remains a source of interest to some parties, the greater loss and risk to the country would have been even worse if we did nothing given the feeding patterns of the desert locusts

5. Potential Revenue Risk: For some of the key crops that are vulnerable to the Desert Locust invasion in the affected areas; below is a summary of the export revenue earned by Uganda from these crops in 2018 a. Fruits and Vegetables: US$ 40.6million b. Maize: US$ 106.8million c. Cotton: US$44.3million d. Simsim: US$ 26.6million

Collectively, this would come to US$ 218.3million per annum potential revenue for Uganda that is at risk from just 4 crops of the 11 crops at stake if we did nothing Desert Locust Control Activities Costs in other countries: In Algeria, Egypt and Morocco; a total of US$3 trillion was spent to control the desert locusts’ invasion.

6. Government of Uganda in collaboration with her partners – FAO and DLCO has, within all means possible, taken an all-out offensive approach within the Karamoja, Teso, Acholi, and Lango sub-regions to contain the situation.

The initiatives undertaken include:

a. Coordination of relevant stakeholders: Different stakeholder engagements have been conducted within the Karamoja, Teso and Acholi sub-regions to enlighten the public on the Desert Locust, its behavior, first response and what to avoid like eating dead locusts.

This has been in collaboration with different government ministries, departments and agencies

b. Enhanced Surveillance (which involves studying the migration patterns and areas where the Desert Locusts could be laying eggs)

i. Surveillance and GIS teams continue to work hand in hand with the support of the UPDF in the region to construct maps of sites where the eggs have been laid

ii. This will enable the technical staff to survey and monitor the hot-spots for any locust outbreak.

iii. These surveillance maps will provide coordinates for the aircraft that will be used in the aerial spraying of the nymphs and immature locusts that will be hatched into the region in less than 2 weeks.

c. Procurement of Supplies: A DLCO aerial spraying aircraft has been received in the country and is in Moroto as we speak. Ground spraying is also still being carried out as Government procures more chemical supplies to be used by the trained experts.

d. Sensitization and Awareness creation in different fora has been done and continues to be done with different players including; Development Partners, Policy Makers, InterMinisterial Committee

e. Capacity Building:

i. Capacity Building of Trainers of Trainers of 200 Technical staff has been conducted.

They have in turn conducted; continuous training of extension officers, District Information Officers, District Production Officers, Regional media on identification, reporting and first response when locusts are sighted; another 500 are being trained in Acholi subregion as we speak

ii. Over 1000 UPDF Officers have been trained on ground spraying and the exercise is still ongoing in different parts of the country. f. Environmental Impact:

The Ministry is working closely with the National Environmental Management Agency and other partners to ensure that there are minimal effects to the environment during the desert locust control activities

g. The supporting experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Desert Locust Control Organization and National Agricultural Research Organization are still in the region undertaking refresher training of extension workers and surveillance teams from the Ministry of Agriculture and Districts in the region

7. The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries pledges to keep the nation updated on the developments and progress made in the effort to avert a food crisis and any other resultant impact in the Country.

Notes for editors

About the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is a Ministry in the Government of Uganda charged with creating an enabling environment in the Agricultural Sector.

The Ministry formulates, reviews and implement national policies, plans, strategies, regulations and standards and enforce laws, regulations and standards along the value chain of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Vision: A competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector.

Mission: To transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

Strategic Objectives

  • To initiate the formulation and review of the policy and legal framework for the sector
  • To establish and implement systems for service provision in the sector
  • To strengthen and implement strategies, regulatory framework, standards, institutional structures and infrastructure for quality assurance and increased quantities of agricultural products to access and sustain local, regional and export markets
  • To design and implement sustainable capacity building programmes for stakeholders in the agricultural sector through training, re-tooling, infrastructure, provision of logistics and ICT
  • To develop strategies for sustainable food security
  • To develop appropriate agricultural technologies for improved agricultural production, productivity and value addition through research
  • To develop effective collaborative mechanisms with affiliated institutions and
  • To take lead and establish a system and institutional framework for agricultural data collection, analyses, storage and dissemination to stakeholders including Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is made up of four Directorates including the Directorate of Crop Resources, Directorate of Animal Resources, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services and the Directorate of Fisheries Resources each with Departments, Divisions and Partnership Projects.

The Departments of the Ministry which do not fall directly in the above include the Department of Agricultural Planning and Development, the Human Resource Department, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production.

The Ministry is also made up of seven Agencies including the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), Dairy Development Authority (DDA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) and the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB).