Desert Locust

The Ministry of Agriculture is seeking for Shs 5 billion in preparation for the Desert Locust which may invade the country followings swarms in the neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.

According to Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Aggrey Bagiire, he said funds will cater for aircraft fuel, pesticides for control, provide for ground spray equipment and spray teams and to continuously create awareness to the population in case of an invasion.

Uganda is a member of the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO EA) and is currently closely working and sharing information on the current status of the desert Locust in the Region.

The Ministry urged the country not to panic saying they are following up developments and control efforts in Kenya and ready to handle any outbreak.

By October 2019, the Desert Locust situation had worsened in Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia and the governments had instituted aerial spray control operations with support from DLCOEA and other Development partners.

As earlier predicted by FAO experts, the Locusts invaded North Eastern Kenyan County of Mandera by December 2019. Currently they have spread to the six Counties of Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Meru and Isiolo. The Kenyan government working with DLCOEA and partners has instituted control operations to suppress the population and stop further spread.

About Desert Locust

Desert Locust is a species of short- horned grasshopper family. It is characterized by its nature of high mobility and broad spectrum feeding habits.

Locusts have ability to alter their behavior, colour, size and shape. When the population density is low, locusts behave as individuals, when the population is high, they swarm and migrate. The locust life cycle comprises three stages of egg, hopper and adult and it lives a total of three to six months.

In Solitary phase, the Desert Locust lives individual life until it rains with availability of vegetation, the females lay eggs. Desert Locusts usually fly with the wind and swarms can travel five to 150 km or more a day depending on weather conditions and normally taking off two to three hours after sunrise in warm weather and four to six hours in cool weather.

Locust swarms vary from less than one km2 to several hundred km2. There can be at least 40 to 80 million locusts in each km2 of swarm. Coupled with its amazing ability to build up and multiply to colossal numbers, a locust can eat its own weight in fresh food. Half million locusts weigh about 1 ton and they can eat about one ton of food enough to feed 2500 people.