Authorities are confirming the deadly fall armyworm outbreak in Rubanda District, southwestern Uganda which is close to Rwanda suggesting that the pest that destroys maize could have migrated from the neighboring country.
Mr. Stephen Byantwale, a commissioner in charge of crop protection in the Ministry of Water and Environment says government has received reports from farmers about fresh attacks of crops planed this season, whose movement into Uganda could have been helped by the rainy season’s strong winds.
Amudat in northwest Uganda, bordering Kenya has also been invaded by the worms that feed on 80 different crops, but maize happens to be its highest preference.
The armyworm which was first detected in Uganda in 2016 and caused havoc last year has been confirmed in Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia this season.
Farmers in Uganda have reported that the pesticides available in the market are not effective against the armyworms.
Outbreaks of the fall armyworm could cause losses between 30% and 40% of the maize crop an this translates to $200 million (Shs7.4b) losses to farmers.
Maize, which is both a food security crop and an economic crop contributes to the livelihoods of over 3.6 million households (UBOS 2014). Based on the estimated yield loss of 15%-75% elsewhere, the presence of the armyworm in Uganda could translate to an annual loss of at least 450,000 metric tonnes of maize that is equivalent to $192m (about sh600b).