Uganda To Buy Aircraft For Aerial Sprays

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said government is planning to buy own aircraft for aerial sprays in response to locusts and other insects attacks in future.

Uganda is on alert over reports that the swarm of the desert locusts is only about 60 kilometers from Amudat and Kaabong districts in Uganda. The locusts are wreaking havoc in West Pokot in Kenya.

The locust desert invasion was confirmed in Kenya last month but they have continued to advance towards the Ugandan border.

Speaking at celebrations to mark the 39th Tarehe Sita anniversary at Nakaseke district headquarters in Butalangu town on Thursday, President Museveni asked Ugandans to stay calm because the government was ready to decisively tackle the locusts in case they cross to Uganda.

Museveni said that yesterday he convened a meeting over the issue and they agreed on several strategies to fight the locusts.

He explained that among the strategies government will deploy ground sprayers and these will be based in Moroto district

He added that an aircraft has already been sourced and is on alert for aerial sprays in case of an attack. He however revealed that the government will buy its own aircraft to stop dependence on other countries in the future.

Atleast 2000 UPDF soldiers have been trained to carry out small scale spraying.

Recently Stephen Byantwale, the commissioner for crop protection at Ministry of Agriculture was quoted by media saying that Uganda had no aircraft and the ministry was working with the Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa (DLCO-EA), the body that provides aircraft for combating pests in East African region, whose base is in Nairobi, Kenya.

But Evarist Magara, the Uganda representative to DLCO-EA also told media the limited financial commitment from the government of Uganda would complicate the possibility of assistance from the locust control body.

Magara that they would bring in spray aircraft if government pays up the debts of 18 billion shillings.

Districts in Karamoja have already deployed teams at the Uganda-Kenya border to monitor the movement of the deadly desert locusts.

The Director of Extension Services, Beatrice Byarugaba told the media in Kampala recently that the Ministry had requested for Shillings 11-billion for the contingency plan. She however said only Shillings 5 billion was available.  

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