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Nwoya Farmers ‘Thank’ Birds, Rain For Saving Them From Armyworms

It is with great relief that farmers in Nwoya District have received the rain from the skies and the birds from Murchison Falls National Park which has come to their rescue and saved them from the hunger that the dangerous African Armyworms were about to cause.

Nwoya District registered an invasion of African Armyworms in March this year in the Sub counties of Got Apwoyo, Lungulu, and Purongo where the pests destroyed thousands of hectares of cereal crops and pastures.

However, officials now say the destruction caused by the worms has reduced since the fall of heavy rains last month and the arrival of birds from Murchison Falls National Park.

Dr. James Ukwir, Nwoya District Production officer who also doubles as the District Veterinary officer says rainwater helped to wash away eggs and the larvae of the destructive pest.

He notes that due to the ongoing rains, the breeding of the pests has been cut adding that they only thrive in dry environments. According to Ukwir, farmers have been relieved of the burden that had been brought by the invasion of the worms adding that many have resumed farming.

“The worms don’t like rain, and when it rains the infestation reduces. The infestation is reducing now and we don’t even hear about it,” Dr. Ukwir told Uganda Radio Network in an interview.

Dr. Ukwir however notes that receiving pesticides from the government last month didn’t help much as the quantity was little and was only used for demonstration in the affected sub-counties in the district.

The district last month received 300 liters of Dudu Cyper Pesticide and five motorized pumps for demonstration purposes from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

Bernard Maktunu, an Agricultural Officer in Got Apowyo Sub-county told URN in an interview that birds that prey on the armyworms also played a great role in reducing the infestation of the caterpillars in the area.

He says that flocks of birds had been coming from Murchison Falls National Park and helped to clear up the caterpillars.

Francis Okumu, a resident of Pamin Olango Layila Village in Got Apwoyo Sub-county says he lost three acres of finger millet and pastures for his goats following the invasion of the worms last month.

Okumu says his attempts to spray the worms with pesticide proved futile adding that they only started reducing when heavy rain returned. He notes that many farmers have since resumed planting crops.

Alfred Kilama, Nwoya District Agricultural Officer says although rain has helped to kill the pests, the stage they are currently in is less destructive unlike about a month ago.

He notes that the African armyworm invasion left a huge loss for farmers whose crop gardens and pastures were eaten up by the worms.

For instance, in Lungulu sub-county, the worms destroyed 120 acres of rice, 520 acres of maize, and 71 acres of finger millet while in Got Apwoyo Sub-county, a total of 21 acres of finger millet and 540 acres of maize were destroyed. In Purongo Sub-county, 45 acres of rice, 54 acres of finger millet, and 34 acres of maize were eaten up by the worms according to Kilama.

URN

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