Fall armyworm spark fears of food insecurity

Friday April 22 2022
Armyworm menace in Uganda’s eastern districts

Government agencies are assessing the armyworm menace in Uganda’s eastern districts. PHOTO | FILE


The outbreak of fall armyworm in Uganda adds to the challenge of availability of fresh food. While maize is one of the main food crops in the region, Uganda’s crop has been devastated by the armyworms, which were reported in the country, in the last week of March.

As of April 4, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries said the caterpillars had spread to Luwero, Mukono, and Wakiso near Kampala. In Eastern Uganda, they have been reported in Butalejja, Bukedea, Bugweri, Serere, Busia, Bugiri, Namutumba and Katakwi districts.

Some of the districts bordering western Kenya are big producers of maize, millet, rice and sorghum.

In central Uganda, Mityana and Kiryandongo, big maize, millet, and sorghum producers, have not been spared.

Commissioner of Crop Protection at the Ministry of Agriculture Stephen Byantwale told The EastAfrican they are assessing the impact of the invasion.

“The ministry is supporting the districts with insecticides and pumps for demonstrations on control of the worms, working with the colleagues at district and sub counties,” said Mr Byantwale.


But Agnes Kirabo, executive director of Food Rights Alliance-Uganda has her doubts.

“Uganda is ill-prepared to contain armyworm spread,” said Kirabo, explaining that rapid response can only be achieved by being well prepared and equipped for control operations and acting on forecasts and warnings.

Some leaders from armyworm-infested districts confirm government was caught off-guard as they have not received any assistance to contain the spread of the armyworm.

Joseph Koluo, lawmaker representing Toroma County in Katakwi district, eastern Uganda, estimates that 1,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed by the armyworms.