The World Food Program headquarters in Kampala have provided five trucks to facilitate in the fight against desert locusts that recently invaded the country.
The trucks were on Wednesday morning handed over to Pius Wakabi, the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary by Oleh Maslyukov, the head of Supply Chain at World Food Program headquarters in Nalukolongo, Kampala.
“This is our offer to government in the fight against desert locusts. We buy produce from Ugandans and it is in our interest to see that we support efforts to save farmers from these pests that would destroy their crops,” Maslyukov said.
He noted that the gesture followed a request by government for the UN organization to offer a helping hand in the fight against the deadly pests.
The Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary said the trucks will go a long way in saving government a lot of money that has been used in hiring trucks to transport logistics including personnel, pumps, food and spray.
“There are already 15 trucks in the field but on top of being expensive to hire, they are not enough. These will save us a lot because they have been fueled and drivers’ allowances paid by WFP,”Wakabi said.
He explained that government spends a lot of money on fuel and allowances for drivers of trucks already in the field, noting that the five trucks will see them save some amount.
“They are not enough but will do a great job considering the terrain we operate in.”
Makes case for fight against locusts
The Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary said the eggs laid by the locusts two weeks ago are soon hatching and that these nymphs will be a menace in a few days to come.
“When they hatch, there is a possibility of eating up all crops in areas where they are. If we don’t attend to these locusts, we will suffer a huge loss in terms of food production,”Wakabi said.
He rubbished claims that the desert locusts are not existent in Uganda, saying those only the blind can say such.
“If we don’t address the issue, feeding is going to be hard. The country will not have food. We need to be worried of it and people should stop making fun of it.”
On Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja said that government had passed a shs16 billion additional budget to be used to fight the hatched hoppers but also prepare for new swarms that are expected in the country any time.
He explained that the money will be used to buy chemicals used by the two aircraft that have recently been acquired to aid in aerial spray of the desert locusts but also the ground spraying since new swarms have entered and many others are expected any time from now.
“Experts on ground are the ones who make these estimates. We have entomologists, agronomists, Uganda Wildlife Authority, NEMA and UPDF experts among others on ground and it is them to make these estimates. My ministry has a budget of one trillion shillings, how can we eat this small shs11 billion,”Ssempijja wondered.
He noted that of the shs16 billion, nine will go to the UPDF whereas shs5.6 billion will cater for chemicals.