Uganda’s efforts to combat the invasion of desert locusts have been boosted by the Russian government with a shs11.2 billion donation.
The development was announced by the Russian Ambassador to Uganda, Alexander Polyakov at a function held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries headquarters in Entebbe on Monday.
“It is my great honor and pleasure to address this symbolic nut important handover of a $3 million (shs11.2billion) cheque for the contribution to Uganda made by the Russian Federation through the UN Food and Agriculture Organization,”Polykov said.
“This is part of the large Russian donation of $10 million to FAO to fund their regional efforts to address the catastrophic desert locust invasion in East Africa.”
The Russian Ambassador said the money would be used to purchase pesticides, fuel, vehicles and sprayers as well as for the employment and training of personnel for the pest’s elimination.
Polykov explained that the current Coronavirus pandemic came at a crucial time when the East African region was fighting the invasion of deserts and noted that his government hopes efforts to fight the pests should not stall.
“This is not the first time my government is extending a helping hand to Uganda. Last year, the Russian government in addition to 218 Kamaz trucks to the UN Food program in 2015 also donated another 53 vehicles to assist its Kampala based regional logistics hub,” he said.
According to the Russian envoy his government will do all it take to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
“It is my strong belief that the government of Uganda in cooperation with the UN and with support from Russia will be able to put an end to this scourge and help the affected communities get back to their feet.”
Speaking in response, the Minister for Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja applauded the Russian government for extending a helping hand to Uganda’s efforts to fight the desert locust invasion.
“I thank you for the generous support towards ensuring food security for our people,” he said.
Detailing and accounting for funds from various partners and donors to government to help in the fight of the desert locust invasion, Minister Ssempijja said they have been able to avert a food crisis.
“It is worth noting that Uganda has within the region conducted a more successful desert locust control program thereby averting a potential loss of over $800 million arising from crops protection of food and cash crops in the affected areas.”
The Agriculture Minister asked the Russian government for more support in terms of 20 field trucks for man power support and transportation of pesticide, pumps, empty containers and other waste for safe disposal.
“After considerations of all the challenges experienced in the field; I propose that you consider the following areas of support including five double cabin pickups for transport for the operational field office at Soroti Flying School, 26 motorcycles and desert locust surveillance equipment for the district teams,”Ssempijja requested.