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DISASTER! Poisonous Grasshoppers Destroy Over 500 Acres of Cassava Gardens in Eastern Uganda

By Solomon Hamala

 

IGANGA

 

Variegated grasshoppers have destroyed over 500 acres of cassava plantations in the Eastern Uganda district of Iganga.

 

The variegated grasshoppers eat up the entire leaves on the plant thus making it rot away besides withering.

 

The worst affected sub counties are Nawaningi, Namungalwe, Nakalama and Bulamagi all found in Iganga district.

 

The District Agricultural Officer Iganga, Sula Nantatya cautioned locals against eating the variegated grasshoppers saying they are poisonous.

 

“People especially children were seen trying to collect them in polythene bags (buvera) for unknown reasons,” he said.

 

Nantatya said the district has to compile a report to the ministry of agriculture animal industry and fisheries for a bigger consignment of profenos and cyper insecticides to help combat the spread of the variegated grasshoppers to neighboring districts.

 

He urged farmers to report immediately to the nearest extension workers in villages about the presence of the insects for necessary action.

 

The secretary for information, Kawete LC one village, Thomas Guliyo said the variegated insects that are green, and blue in color produce a liquid that scares away hens from eating them.

 

“We don’t know whether the liquid is poisonous or smells bad for the hens to eat,” he said.

 

Guliyo expressed fear that the district is likely to be hit by famine as a result of destruction of the cassava plantations since most locals entirely rely on agriculture for survival.

 

“Most of the people depend on digging for survival in their homes besides paying school fees for their children,” he said.

 

Farmers have asked government to intervene by spraying the entire plantations to combat the spread of the insects to the neighboring districts.

 

Miraabu Babirye, a farmer in Bulimwaki village Namungalwe Sub County who lost three acres of cassava plantations to the insects said at first she thought they were locusts only to be informed that they were different.

 

Babirye said the cassava tubers on all the affected plants later become sour making it unfit for human consumption.

 

Joy Tumwesigye, a farmer in Nakalama Sub County Iganga district said the variegated grasshoppers have also destroyed other crops like sweet potatoes, maize, and sugar cane.

 

Tumwesigye said they have on several occasions attempted to spray their crops with insecticides like rocket in vain.

 

The LC 5 chairman Iganga, Ezra Gabula said the district is likely to be hit by famine this year following the destruction of the favorite staple food that fetches income to most locals.

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