KAMPALA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Uganda has set up national task force to combat the outbreak of army-worms in the east African country.
Vincent Ssempijja, minister of agriculture in a statement issued on Friday said the task force will develop action plans for effective management of the army-worm both in the short and long term periods.
He said the ministry of agriculture as an emergency measure is going to buy pesticides known to have worked successfully elsewhere in the control of army worms.
He said government will also procure motorized pumps and all other related items.
He urged farmers and the general public to promptly report any outbreaks for guidance on the interim measures of managing the pest.
Government has set aside one billion shillings (over 285,700 U.S. dollars) to control the pest.
Ssempijja said the presence of the army-worms poses an export risk for the country which would have a negative effect on foreign exchange earnings.
The outbreak was first reported in Uganda in 2016 in three districts. It has now spread to over 20 districts.
"Ministry of agriculture has so far confirmed damages on maize and sugarcane crops," the statement said.
Ssempijja said government is yet to establish the impact of the pest in Uganda but based on their effects elsewhere, the impact may be huge.
"Based on the estimated yield loss of 15 percent -75 percent elsewhere, the presence of the army-worm in Uganda could translate to an annual loss of at least 450,000 metric tonnes of maize that is equivalent to almost 200 million dollars.
The figures, according to ministry of agriculture, are only reflective of maize however the pest affects more crops heightening the potential loss to the economy.