By Namugerwa Martha

The armyworm pest outbreaks in Uganda and is spotted in districts like Mukono, Kasese, Kayunga and Bukedea.

Vincent Ssempijja, the minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries has confirmed that this pest is very dangerous and its reproduction is at a high rate.

“This fly lays 2000 eggs and this army worm or caterpillar pest is its second stage and the most dangerous one.” Hon. Ssempijja warned.

Ssempijja added that this pest almost feeds to more than 80 plant species including legumes and cereals like maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, rice and wheat.

“This pest can be identified by its Y mark on the front of the head and 4 large spots towards the end of its abdomen.” Hon. Ssempijja added.

He further added that this pest outbreak was first observed in countries like Togo, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Kenya.

Ssempijja promised the farmers that the government has put in shs1 billion to help in the eradication of this in the country. He also added that they have also formed a task force from different stake holders to develop action plans for effective management of the pest in the short and long run.

“A technical committee comprising National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) and Ministry of Health staff are already in place to guide on implementation of pest outbreak management and they are going to continue advocating and lobbing for financial support,” Mr Ssempijja said.

He, however, indicates that as an emergency intervention, farmers should use a pesticide combination of Lambda-cyhalothrin [106g/1] and thiamethoxam [140g/1], [ Striker 247 SC or Engeo K 247 SC and Profenofos 40 per cent + Cypermethrine 4 per cent at a rate of 20-50Mls in 15-20 litres of water as the ministry explores more sustainable management measure.

He said the ministry is set to educate farmers on how to effectively mix the formulas, starting tomorrow.

Adding that this pest first eats the stem of the crop then the leaves living the plant turning purple.

Ssempijja also urged farmers to stay calm because the research is going on to establish long term effectiveness and robust control measures of this pest.

Further the minister added that the government is going to start teaching the district leaders on how to go about the pest and its eradication.
However, the Agriculture Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja while announcing the outbreak on Friday alluded to the fact that the outbreak would have an impact on the countrys economy and foreign exchange earnings.