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Bee keepers up in arms over locust pesticides

By Henry Sekanjako

Added 10th March 2020 06:02 PM

Last month, the government delivered 18,000 liters each of cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos pesticides to the sub-regions to spray desert locusts.

Bee keepers up in arms over locust pesticides

(L-R) Bee farmers listening to Dickson Biryomumaisho (right) Executive Director of Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation. (Photo by Wilfred Sanya)

Last month, the government delivered 18,000 liters each of cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos pesticides to the sub-regions to spray desert locusts.

LOCUSTS  BEES  APICULTURE

BeeKeepers in Karamoja, Lango and West Nile sub-regions are up in arms with the government over pesticides used to spray locusts, which they say have killed their bees.

Last month, the government delivered 18,000 liters each of cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos pesticides to the sub-regions to spray desert locusts that have since invaded the country.

Experts however warned that Cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos are harmful to useful insects such as bees and are used for killing pests such as cockroaches, fleas, termites and other smaller insects, but are not effective in killing locusts.

"Bees are insects and locusts are insects, and if you look at locusts carefully, they are heavy-bodied than bees, so if you apply a non-selective chemical for instance, then you ultimately affect the bees because pesticides kill insects," Dickson Biryomumeisho, the executive director, the Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) said.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala yesterday, the beekeepers under their body TUNADO, said the lack of careful spraying of the locusts will not only affect the bees, but also the market for the Ugandan honey, as a result of contamination of the honey with pesticides chemicals.

The beekeepers advised that the government halts aerial spray of locusts saying it is likely to have a greater effect on the bees.

"We are likely to get a disaster with our bees because pesticides kill bees. So we are asking the government to do a thorough assessment before they can think of aerial spraying," Biryomumeisho said.

The government last month indicated that it was leasing two aircrafts from neighbouring Kenya, to help in the spraying of the locusts, using the aerial spraying method.

According to the beekeepers, however, this is not necessary if the locusts can be contained with ground spraying, not to affect the bees in the affected areas.

Swarms of the desert locusts have since spread to at least 17 districts in the semi-arid northeast region, mainly Karamoja.

The locusts have been cited in Abim, Nakapiripiriti, Amudat, Agago, Kitgum, Karenge, Soroti, Amuria, Katakwi, Ngora, Kaabong, Napak, Moroto and Kotido districts, which according to TUNADO all host beekeepers.

They indicated that if unchecked, the effect on beekeeping by the locusts spraying is likely to impact on the business, which Biryomumeisho said employs 80% of women and youth in the Karamoja region.

TUNADO, however, advised beekeepers, to always be on the lookout, by shifting their beehives to areas where there is no spraying.

" In the meantime, we have asked our farmers to consider moving the beehives to areas that are safe, especially during the night, when bees are not eating," Biryomumeisho said.

Upon the invasion of the locusts, the government deployed 2,000 soldiers to help in the spraying of the locusts in the affected areas.

The beekeepers noted that the invasion of locusts is likely to affect the market of honey and bee wax as a result of contamination.

The Ugandan Beekeepers Association estimates that only between 800-1200 metric tonnes of honey is produced per year due to the current lack of bee stock.

Yesterday, TUNADO passed out over 30 youth who attained skills in beekeeping. The youth will move around the country, training farmers interested in beekeeping as a business.

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