There is panic among farmers in Bukonzo West Constituency in Kasese District following a strange pest that invaded their gardens.
The small white pest, which is covered with powder and has a dog- like-face was cited in different plantations in Mpondwe-Lubiriha, parts of Karambi and Kinyamaseke Sub Counties. Residents believe that it is an advance swarm of the pests that have been ravaging plantations in neighbouring DR. Congo.
Our reporter witnessed the slight damage the insects have caused to the plantations, as seen in the deep holes poked in the green leaves. Julius Rukara, the principal agriculture officer of the Kasese district, says that they are in the process of identifying the pest. He says that a team from the district production department has been dispatched to the ground to assess the situation.
Rukara advises the local community, for now, to desist from eating vegetables including the popular cassava leaves locally known as “some” until the pest and its characteristics are established.
Annet Mbambu Wasakondi, one of the farmers in Nyakahya 1 in Mpondwe –Lubhiriha Town Council whose cassava plantation has been attacked, says that she is worried that the insects may evolve into more disastrous pests that may devastate crops in the area. He says that many people are fearing to eat greens, which have been directly affected the all-time vibrant palm-oil business due to reduced demand.
Alex Bwambale, another local in the area says that he encountered the strange pest on Tuesday in his cassava garden after seeing it being circulated on social media by his friends from DRC. He says that the Bakhonzo community majorly depend on Cassava leaves for sauce and such invasion means people are lacking what to eat.
Siyama Bakwe, whose garden has also been affected by the pest, says that the dog-like face of the insect is scary and she has since Tuesday abandoned her garden. She says the family is struggling to find alternative sauce.
Doris Mbambu appeals to the ministry of Agriculture to make quick studies on the pest and find a reliable response. She fears that if left to freely multiply in the gardens, the insects could affect food security in the area.
“For us here we depend on Cassava leaves and tubes to make flour so if the pest invades our gardens it automatically means we shall have no food here,” she said.
The deputy LC III Chairperson of Mpondwe Town Council, Yunus Muhindo Kahwa, says that the pest is new and as such government must come in handy to make investigations before it spreads and causes further damage.
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