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Uganda Urges Farmers to Plant Even as Locusts Threaten Crops

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BLOOMBERG 8 APR 2020

Uganda asked its farmers to start planting to ensure food security even if new locust swarms could destroy the crops given that supplies needed to fight the pests are diverted to curbing the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The nose masks are hard to find as there is stiff competition for them since they are also being used to protect communities from coronavirus,”

Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said in a statement on Tuesday. Still, farmers are “encouraged to take advantage of recent rains and plant crops to avert a possible food crisis,” he said.

The delivery of 8,600 liters of pesticides from Japan has been delayed due to virus-related challenges, according to Ssempijja.

Countries from Uganda to Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are battling the worst desert locust invasion in decades, a crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus emergency that has restricted air travel to slow transmission of the virus. New swarms also threaten Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Two swarms that could cover as much as 10 square kilometers entered Uganda from neighboring Kenya on Friday, according to Ssempijja. The new entrants are mostly young locusts which usually feed more than the adults that entered the country in February, he said.

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