The Country has been drawn into panic mode after reports emerged early last week that the first swarm of lusts had been confirmed in the county’s North Eastern Karamoja region confirming the fears that had gripped the public since the deadly insects invaded neighboring Kenya.
The invasion had prior been experienced in Somalia, Ethiopia and lately Kenya, from where they entered Uganda.
In an effort to combat the catastrophe, Government has resolved to call a regional summit to dialogue about a concerted effort to find an emergency fix to the problem.
While briefing Parliament on Tuesday,State Minister for Agriculture in charge of animal husbandry revealed that it’s been hard to contain the insects because of one of their breeding bases being in the war torn region of Somalia.
“These locusts have been breeding in an area where there is war in Somalia. We are planning to call for a regional meeting so that we can deal with the situation in Somalia,” the Minister said.
With the situation most likely to escalate as per the the Desert Locusts situation update by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of February 10th, a section of the Ugandan population feel little has been done by government to arrest the situation with The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga being one of them.
“Two years ago in this very chair I reminded government about the need to subscribe to the Desert Locust Control Organisation because we will be having a need for assistance,” Kadaga said during a session.
Despite the situation appearing as though it’s been the first of it’s kind, history reports to the contrary.
On January 30,1933, exactly 87 years ago, Desert Locusts invaded Kampala. A report was compiled and sent to the Economic Advisory Committee on Locusts Investigation in East Africa by Mr H.B Johnston of the then Department of Agriculture in Enteebe. In this particular report, Locust Specimens were sent for studying in the UK.
It was detailed with drawings of the stages of development of the insects, their breeding cages, and a map of the meteorological observation stations in Uganda.
During this period, the International Institute of Entomology resolved to concentrate locust research in Uganda.
The report explains locusts’ characteristics, habits and behavior.
Classification of the insects was done,it’s damage to the crops documented with photographs of Kapeeka, and compared with other studies made in Tanganyika, Sudan Kenya and Nigeria.
Methods of destruction undertaken in the reasearch were also reported, which included burning, beating, poisoning and tenching. There were also studies on egg laying,feeding and reproduction habits.
The Johnson report also recorded the differences between Locusts and grasshoppers and showed the general patterns of the flight of swarms in East Africa, Sudan and Congo.
He recommended that the then colonial administration undertakes research on Locusts and compile accurate data on their movements, distribution and possible exchange of reports by African governments on research and control operations.
This report would be a vital tool from which government would pick some lessons on the containment and defeat of the deadly insects upon the environment and the livelihood of the people of Uganda.
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