Snails have invaded Kabarole district, destroying gardens of beans, tomatoes, Irish potatoes, cabbages, and severely impacting harvests.
According to farmers in Kichwamba sub county Kabarole district, the snail invasion has scourged the area for close to three years now, with the most affected areas being Bwanika and Mabale parishes in Kichwamba Sub County.
Rose Kyakyo, one of the affected farmers, says the snails attack their crops at every stage of growth, right from planting to harvesting.
“The snails increase during the rainy season when we are planting. It is a disaster; we are no longer harvesting,” she says.
Kyakyo revealed that farmers have resorted to manually collecting snails from their gardens every morning and evening when they are most active.
“We collect these snails when we are planting, while weeding and every morning and evening if we are to have some harvests. This is time consuming and we spend money on it because you can’t collect them alone if you have a big garden,” she explained.
“We used to bury them but when it rained they would again come up so we opted to burn them. By harvest time, you can collect about a 100kg sack of snails, depending on the size of the garden.”
Gorreti Nyangoma, a resident of Kitumbi village Mabale parish, says she collects a 25kg sack full of snails from a garden in which she plants 30kgs of beans,
”In one of the seasons, I had no time to pick snails from the garden, and I lost my entire harvest,” she narrates.
Silvester Katesigwa, a former Agricultural Officer, says he was unaware of how dangerous snails were until he lost an entire garden of beans to them.
Even more worrisome for him is the fact that the snails seem immune to common pesticides.
“I have tried spraying but no pesticides have killed them. During the dry season, they hide in wetlands and when it starts raining, they move up to the dry land,” he says.
Katesigwa expressed concern that the snails could spread diseases in the community since most people pick them up with their bare hands.
He called upon the district’s Production department and the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to find a solution to the scourge that is devastating farmlands in Kichwamba Sub County.
The Kabarole district Production Officer, Dr. Salvatore Abigaba, confirmed that the snail plague is ravaging farming in the area.
“I visited these [affected] areas with sub county extension workers and found out that indeed these snails are very dangerous. I advised the affected farmers to keep killing and burying the snails in pits as the ministry (MAAIF) finds a solution,” Dr. Abigaba said.
He revealed that the district Production department had written to MAAIF about the issue and hopes that the ministry will intervene very soon.
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