Uganda Cabinet has passed another 16 billion shillings to go to the Ministry Agriculture, the leading agency in the fight against the desert locusts that invaded the country recently.
At least shs11 billion had earlier been earmarked for the Ministry to help combat the locust invasion.
Addressing journalists on the situation in the fight against locusts, the Agriculture Minister, Vincent Ssempijja said the need for more money was necessitated by the new swarms that have invaded the country but also new ones expected soon.
“We have asked and cabinet passed an extra shs16 billion to fight the locusts. A total of nine billion shillings will go to the UPDF for the men on ground and spraying whereas shs5.6 billion will go for chemicals to spray them,”Ssempijja said at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday morning.
The UPDF deployed at least 2000 men who are carrying out manual and motorized spraying of the locusts as well as aircraft and drones used in the spray at a lower level of the desert locusts.
The Minister said that at least shs1.2 billion will go to different Local Council leaders up to the district and training of extension workers who are much needed in giving information about the presence of the insects in their localities.
Makes case for addition budget
There have been reports especially on social media claiming that government officials have exaggerated the swarms of the locusts that invaded the country in a bid to “eat” money in form of exaggerated budgets but the Agriculture minister allayed any fears.
He explained that the money will go for buying chemicals used by the two aircraft that have recently been acquired to aid in aerial spray of the desert locusts but also the ground spraying since new swarms have entered and many others are expected any time from now.
“Experts on ground are the ones who make these estimates. We have entomologists, agronomists, Uganda Wildlife Authority, NEMA and UPDF experts among others on ground and it is them to make these estimates. My ministry has a budget of one trillion shillings, how can we eat this small shs11 billion,”Ssempijja wondered.
The Minister said locust swarms have been confirmed in Karamoja, Teso, Acholi, Lango and Sebei sub-regions of the country noting that they are classified as mature adult locusts that are mainly laying eggs but noted that a new swarm has entered the country from Kenya .
“It is anticipated that the first swarms that invaded the country on February 9th, 2020 laid eggs; and these eggs may hatch into hoppers – the most destructive stage of the desert locust lifecycle, anytime. Our technical teams and the UPDF are on the ground boosting surveillance to ensure that the emerging generation of locusts is controlled.”
He said that the additional budget will cater for the eggs that may soon hatch into hoppers but also new swarms expected from the Turkana region of Kenya insisting that no money will ever be eaten as many, especially on social media have always claimed.
“No money has been eaten and in case of any question, the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary is available to account for any coin lost. People should be patriotic and have a sense of feeling for their country,”Ssempijja warned.