Farmers worried as caterpillars attack crops in Fort Portal City

FORT PORTAL – Farmers in Fort Portal City continue to count losses as caterpillars destroy crops on the farms.

The caterpillars which have been cited in the villages of Bukwali, Mugoma, and Butebe among others can be seen feeding on the leaves of all green plants including bananas, coffee, beans, cassava, maize, pastures, and green vegetables among others.

According to farmers, the caterpillars have not only threatened crops but also people. When people get in contact with the caterpillars, their skins itch and develop rashes.

Kenneth Kakiiza a resident of Mugoma in Fort Portal City said they now fear going to work in the gardens because of the dangerous caterpillars.

“We are really worried that if these caterpillars continue eating our crops, we may have little or no harvests because they eat almost everything especially when it comes to vegetables. They not only destroy crops but also cause rashes on our bodies when they get in contact,” he said.

Some of the greens attacked by the caterpillars (Photo by Scovia Atuhaire).

He said children have developed itchy rashes on their bodies after the months get in contact with them.

He revealed that caterpillars also enter their houses when the wind blows.

The senior agricultural officer in the Agriculture ministry, Patrick Kamulegeya said the pest is not new in the country, revealing that in 2020, it invaded districts of Kayunga, Mukono, Luweero, Nakasongora among others.

He advised farmers to spray the pest with cypermethrin 5% a mulfibo concentrate which is a contact pesticide that needs to be sprayed very well.

“I appeal to all farmers to spray with cypermethrin 5% and ensure that you wear protective gear while spraying. The stage of the pest is very important because you need to use different dosages depending on the stage,” he said.

Kamulegeya said the caterpillars are the larval form of butterflies that need the use of a higher dosage unlike when it is still in its young stage.

“Larva is the most dangerous and active stage of a caterpillar so you need to use a higher dosage to control them. You need to use 40-50mls per 20 liters of water,” he said.

He encouraged farmers to first harvest before spraying because after spraying, they need to spend 14 days without harvesting.

Officials from Fort Portal City production office demonstrating to farmers how to spray the caterpillars (Photo by Scovia Atuhaire).

However, farmers appealed to government to help them spray the pests.

The Fort Portal City production officer, Dr. Stanley Businge told farmers that as the city, they don’t have money to buy the recommended chemicals to spray the caterpillars.

“We have several chemicals in our agro-input shops that can be purchased and used to spray these caterpillars. Any component that has cypermethrin can kill these caterpillars. Rocket and Striker can also help and kill these caterpillars,” he said.

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