Uganda reports outbreak of African armyworm as Kenya issues alert


Food insecurity in east Africa could worsen as Uganda announces an outbreak of African armyworm which has so far affected 38 districts.

Uganda Minister for Agriculture Fred Kyakulaga has said since the first case of the outbreak was reported late last month, the destructive pest continues to spread in a situation which is likely to hurt food production in the country.

According to Kyakulaga, the pest is suspected to have migrated from neighbouring countries which are currently facing dry season with the outbreak expected to hurt Uganda’s cereals and pasture output.

The ministry has now urged farmers to source for Cypermethrin 5EC, a pesticide it says is effective in containing the spread of African armyworm as well as manually remove and destroy the eggs as a containment measure.

“The ministry has procured and distributed over 30,000 litres of the recommended pesticide to affected districts to demonstrate to communities on the effective control of the pest. The ministry has today received another 20,000 litres of the recommended pesticide and more 100 motorized pumps and 200 sets of protective gear to boost the control measures,” said Kyakulaga.

The government has further urged pesticide distributors to ensure there is enough stock especially in districts where the pest has been identified.

“Ministry Crop Inspectors have been dispatched to various affected districts to verify reports, establish the pest status as well as provide guidance to the districts staff and farmers on the control measures,’ he added.

Kyakulaga has also urged farmers to remain calm as the government pool resources to bring the situation under control.

The outbreak in Uganda which could spread to neighbouring countries further complicates food security efforts in the region where an estimated 28 million people are facing hunger due to delayed long rains.

This comes as Kenya issues alert of a possible increase in the African armyworm invasion in 11 counties.

The counties identified as possible hotspots include Taita Taveta, Murang’a, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, Kajiado, Nakuru, Narok, Kwale and Kilifi.

The Tsavo, Amboseli and Maasai Mara national reserve have also been identified as massive breeding grounds for the destructive pests that have been sighted in Western Kenya and parts of the Rift Valley.


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