Crop specialists have encouraged farmers to keep a closer eye on their gardens and apply pesticides on time to avoid being harmed by the invasive African armyworm.
The warning comes just a day after the Agriculture Ministry verified a pest outbreak in 38 districts, barely weeks after the first instances were reported in Luweero in March.
Dr. Herbert Talwana, a crop entomologist at Makerere University College of Agriculture, told BAZZUP Wednesday that the African armyworm is a native insect that affects significantly more crops than the fall armyworm, which wreaked havoc on the country four years ago.
“Maize is preferred by the fall armyworm because it is a large worm that prefers a large crop. “This African armyworm prefers grains like maize, millet, and sorghum… yet it is always found in grassland,” he explained.
According to Dr. Talwana, if a farmer detects African armyworms when they are still immature, they are particularly vulnerable to insecticides.
“However, as they grow older, they become more difficult to kill, and because they are sporadic, they will have already caused damage to your crops,” he explained.
“You can go to your garden today and not find them, but because they are migratory, you can go back tomorrow and find them.”
If you catch them early enough, you may spray and kill them; if you wait too long, they will grow swiftly and spread from crop to crop, destroying your garden,” he added.
Mr Stephen Byantwale, the Agriculture Ministry’s commissioner for crop protection, told this publication that the most effective pesticide to combat the African armyworm has been identified.
“What we do as a ministry is conduct bio-assays in which we test in the field as soon as there is an epidemic and choose the appropriate pesticide to use.” In this case, cypermethrin 5EC is the best option (emulsifiable concentration five). He explained, “This will kill this pest.”
Ratios of spray
In response to reports that pesticides aren’t functioning, the commissioner advised farmers to mix 100 to 120 millimeters of pesticide in 200 litres of water to kill the pest properly.
“The insect will not perish if you merely use 40 millilitres of pesticide in 20 litres of water.” Will you blame the pesticide or the farmer for not completing his job properly? Use the suggested rate. “We’ve tested it and it works,” he remarked.
Mr Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, the State Minister for Agriculture, said that over 23,000 litres of pesticides, 100 motorized pumps, and 200 pieces of safety gear had been procured and handed to the affected regions.