The onset of the planting season for farmers growing the maize crop in Luweero District is at crossroads with many farmers already counting losses after losing the crop to strange pesticide resistant caterpillars.
Luweero District Agriculture Officer, Ms Sarah Namubiru describes the pesticide resistant caterpillars as strange and rare because of their ability to resist most of the pesticides available on market for the farmers.
“It is unfortunate that the caterpillars have spread to different gardens and are resistant to most of the pesticides available on the market. We have visited several gardens and referred the samples to the Ministry of Agriculture for intervention. The invasion by caterpillars could be disastrous if not controlled,” Ms Namubiru said.
At Bukangabya village in Butuntumula Sub-county, farmers claim the caterpillars have been resistant to Cypermethrin, Permethrin which are the most common pesticides.
“We have tried to spray the maize crop with a combination of the other pesticides including Anti-Killer, Afgor with no positive result. We only succeeded in killing the caterpillars after mixing over doze which left the maize plants scotched. This maize cannot grow when scotched. We call upon government to come to our rescue by extending to the farmers chemicals which can help eliminate the caterpillars,” Ms Margaret Nabuuso a farmer who has already lost about acres of her maize garden said.
Mr Ronald Ssenfuka, another farmer at Kito village in Kikyusa Subcounty who has also lost 12 acres of the maize crop to the caterpillars in the past one week shares Ms Nabuuso grief.
“I have been working on this farm with my children hoping that I would be able to get school fees after the harvest. My plans will not be fulfilled after spending more than Shs600,000 to prepare the gardens and plant the maize,” he said.
About three Sub-counties including Kikyusa, Zirobwe and Butuntumula have so far reported cases of the pesticide resistant caterpillars destroying their maize gardens but the damage could be higher, according the District Agriculture Officer.
“We appeal to our farmers to remain calm as we wait for a response from the Ministry of Agriculture. We only need to monitor the developments and ensure that all the suspicious cases are reported to the Agriculture extension officers at the Sub-county,” Ms Namubiru told the farmers.
The caterpillars destroy the funnel and eat up all the tender leaves leaving the plant unable to grow. It is suspected that the intermittent rains could have provided the breeding ground for the pests to multiply.
DAILY MONITORLuweero farmers in panic as strange caterpillars ravage maize