The fall army worm saga has made headlines for the wrong reason as it has devastated the agriculture sector in Africa since its ‘arrival.’ It is a pest that has left farmers, cooperatives and governments scratching their heads in search of answers to fight back. It has become a global concern and everyone has been involved to discuss on the way forward.
The pest is a destructive insect with an insatiable appetite for various crops. Now, the ministry of agriculture in Uganda is seeking for UGX 12.5 billion to fight against the fall army worm crisis. This is a big financial strain and drain on the Government budget. There have been questions on the priority of the country’s backbone, on the budget allocation as it needs a fat budget to fulfill its obligations.
Already around $675,000 is available to fight pests and diseases but more is needed. It has been a priority to keep the matter at the top of the sector’s agenda not to encounter a similar occurrence in the next harvest. It distorted the prices of commodities, the food insecurity altered the business environment and smooth flow of operations in the country.
The country’s staple food, bananas recorded close to $200 million in terms of loss, with cotton, coffee and tea amounting losses to around $98 million. Preventive measures against pest and diseases need to be keenly looked into to ensure food security is in check and the government need not to look for other avenues to feed the nation.
It slows down the nation’s goals of expanding the sector and using more money into alternative sources other than investing more in the sector itself. The sector is looking into investing in more pest-resistance, high yielding species of seeds to be on the safer side. Biological coping mechanisms would be the way forward and it proves to be costly for the government.
The spread of army worm could cause more disaster than floods and natural calamities and need to be dealt with before it becomes impossible to combat.