Before the fears of farmers in Northern Uganda shifted to the recent coronavirus outbreak, many were already upset about the large swarms of desert locusts that entered the region through its eastern territory in February 2020. Reports indicated that these locusts caused unthinkable havocs in Western Kenya, where they originated from.
The locusts were met with a fight by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) when they first entered the borders of Uganda through Amudat, after which they went in hibernation. Essentially, people thought the locusts were all dead after they went in hiding for a while.
However, on Wednesday 8, 2020, residents of Kitgum and Lamwo were shocked when they saw large throngs of the insects flying the skies heading westwards.
For two weeks now, the government of Uganda had imposed a lock-down across the country, with exceptions given to the farmers to freely move and carry out agricultural production. Seeing the yellow locusts in the air again just added another layer of fear to the already struggling farmers, most of whom have very little hope in their harvest this year.
Unlike other regions, Northern Uganda is basically dry and has only one planting season (April-October) followed by a long dry spelt (late November- early March), during which period most crop harvests are made.
Nature-induced food insecurity still remains a major problem in the region due to the harsh climatic conditions. According to a Priya Gujadhur, an official from FAO, one swarm of 40 to 80 million locusts can consume food for over 35,000 people in a single day.
With two signs of disasters seen in the first quarter of this year—COVID-19 and the yellow locust tragedies, most Ugandans have named the year “worst in history” and concerns of humanitarian crisis remain high.
It is still unclear how possible it is for the government and farmers to find a way out of the two difficult phenomena that have posed severe threats not only to livelihoods but the entire economic, social and political realms of the country.
The COVID-19 crisis especially remains the bigger threat in the future going forward. Despite the government efforts in dealing with the two catastrophes, many analysts have projected a slowdown in economic growth, social and political uncertainties in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the disaster.
Following the recent presidential directives, farmers across the country have been encouraged to concentrate on their work to provide sufficient food for the fast-growing population amid calamities.
In Northern Uganda, agricultural input stores have been seen busy, with farmers buying agricultural tools and other inputs and many farmers already clearing gardens for planting.
Wishing the nation well! , #StaySafe #StayHome