Juma Kamoga, the LC 3 chairperson of Kityerera Sub County says each household has lost about an acre of sweet potatoes to the caterpillars.
Caterpillars have invaded Kityerera Sub County in Mayuge district destroying about 60 acres of sweet potato gardens. The caterpillars eat the sweet potato leaves, leaving the plant to dry up. Sweet potato gardens in Bukunja, Bubinge, Bukalenzi and Butangala parishes are most affected by the caterpillar attacks. Farmers say they opted to grow sweet potatoes after their cassava was attacked by the mosaic disease, but their efforts have gone to waste because of the caterpillar attack.
Juma Kamoga, the LC 3 chairperson of Kityerera Sub County says each household has lost about an acre of sweet potatoes to the caterpillars. He says the caterpillar struck at a wrong time, when the sweet potatoes were almost flowering. Sarah Bulyelali, a sweet potato farmer in Nhendha village says she tried to apply ash in her garden to get rid of the caterpillars in vain. She says the caterpillars multiply in huge numbers every day. Bulyelali calls for the intervention of agricultural experts to help sensitize them on how to deal with the caterpillars.
Peter Kasadha, the Mayuge district NAADS coordinator says the caterpillar invasion is a threat to food security in the area after crops such as maize, cassava and beans were also attacked by pests. Paul Walube, the Mayuge Agricultural Officer says they have received information about the caterpillar invasion. He says that they have asked farmers to use pesticides to get rid of the caterpillars. Walube also advises the farmers to start picking up the caterpillars if pesticides are out of reach. He says the caterpillars have been identified as the nocturnal sweet potato moth.
Walube also advises farmers to stop transferring leaves from the infected potato gardens to other villages to stop them from spreading to other areas.