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UGANDA: Edible beetles take over Kalangala palm oil plantations

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KAMPALA (URN) – Oil Palm plantations in Bugala Islands have been attacked by Beetle-insects, threatening the productivity of the plant, the prime source of vegetable oil in the country.

Commonly known as “Amasiinya’ in Luganda, the pests, almost the size of caterpillars are known to inflict serious damage on oil palm trees as a result of its feeding activity that bores into the base of the cluster of unopened fronds. This activity produces holes on the petioles and ‘V’ shaped cuts on leaves as they unfold, causing major crop loss in plantations.

The white insects were known to hatch from rotting wild palm trees that existed in Kalangala Islands. However, farmers are saying that the beetles have evolved and are now feasting on palm trees which were recently introduced in the area for oil production.

Teddy Namubiru, a resident of Mugoye village B in Mugoye Sub County who owns a four-acre plantation is one of the affected palm oil tree growers in the Kalangala district’s main island of Bugala. She explains that the beetle-pests attack the palm trees from the underneath and subsequently affects the plant’s general growth and yield. The attacked palm trees turn yellow and wilt thereafter.

Namubiru adds the all the attacked palms trees do not respond to fertilizers. She is worried about losing her whole plantation to the pests calling upon the government to help them with pesticides that can fight off the beetles.

//cue in, (Luganda) anti amasiinya gano…………
Cue out……………….guba gwonna gugenze//

Willy Mukooza, another farmer at Mugoye village also confirms losing several of his plants to the pests, arguing that they are not certain of what pesticides to use to prevent the loss. According to him, the beetles also eat their way into the plant stems, destroying the whole palm tree.

Henry Kizito, the secretary of Kalangala Oil and Palm Growers Association, a body that brings together Oil palm out-growers also confirms the problem which he says needs to be addressed with urgency.

Although Kizito cannot quantify the losses so far registered by farmers, he is worried that the beetles are regularly multiplying their population which may put the Palm Oil project at great risk if the government doesn’t address the problem.

Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala district chairperson also confirms the problem, however adding that they have sought intervention from the Ministry of Agriculture which promised to send in a team of researchers to carry out a study on the pests.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: April 16, 2018 at 12:19PM

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