Legislators from Luwero district have criticized the government for doing little to help farmers to fight the African Armyworm outbreak. The African Armyworm was first observed in Luwero district on the farm belonging to Bugema University on March 26th, 2022.

The worms have since spread to Zirobwe, Kalagala, Makulubita, Butuntumula and Luwero sub-counties and Busiika and Kamira town councils, where they have destroyed several gardens and pasture.

Denes Sekabira, the Katikamu North Member of Parliament, says recently the Prime Minister recently told Parliament that the government had bought 23,000liters of pesticides and distributed them to districts to fight the African armyworm outbreak.

He, however, says that he was surprised to hear that the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries had only delivered 50liters to Luwero, which is one of the most affected districts.

Sekabira questioned the criteria used by the Ministry to distribute the pesticides, saying that if it had been shared equally among the affected districts, Luwero would have received more than 50liters.

Brenda Nabukenya, the Luwero District Woman Member of Parliament, says that the 50liters are just a drop in the ocean, which has left many farmers crying foul. She says that many farmers have given up on the fight due to the lack of money to buy pesticides.

Nabukenya explains that most farmers are adversely affected by drought and can’t afford to buy pesticides to kill the worms. She asked the government to use part of the funds for disaster preparedness to come to the rescue of farmers now or else they will seek its help when they don’t have food.

The legislators have promised to table the matter before Parliament to investigate the distribution of the pesticides.

Erastus Kibirango, the Luwero district LC V chairperson explains that the 50liters of pesticides donated to the district are intended for demonstration purposes only.

Kibirango says that as a district they are planning to buy some pesticides for distribution to the farmers.

Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, says the pesticides dispatched to districts look like a drop in the ocean because there is no budget for disease control.

“So as MPs interest yourself in the budget for animal and crop disease control. Fortunately, appropriation is on now,” Tumwebaze said via his Twitter account

Agriculturalists in the districts are also hopeful that despite pesticide shortages, the armyworms are likely to die out as the rainy season kicks in.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the African armyworms that feed on plants, especially cereals have now spread to over 40 districts across the country.

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