By Daniel Edyegu,
Ronald Ssekandi KWEEN, Uganda,
No matter what kind of noise
is made including ringing bells and riding around farms with a
loud motorcycle, quelea birds have remained adamant to leave
expanses of farms in eastern Uganda.
In Kween district,
the hungry birds whose destruction is similar to
that of locusts have destroyed tons of grain
costing farmers hundreds of thousands of U.S.
At a sorghum plantation belonging
to Kapchorwa Commercial Farmer’s Association (KACOFA) in Ngenge
Sub County, the birds swarmed the 1,095-acre plantation as the
farmers made preparations to harvest.
David Kissa, the chief executive
officer for KACOFA, a farmer’s group in Kapchorwa district
engaged in extensive farming told Xinhua in an interview over
the weekend that the destructive birds raided the plantation a
sooner had I communicated to the driver to deliver the combine
harvester near the farm in preparation for harvesting, than
the Queleas started trickling into the plantation. The birds
kept on eating grain from the farm and increasing each passing
day, “ he said.
The Queleas are small brownish
birds of the weaver-bird family that is mostly found in Africa.
Queleas, sometimes called locust birds, are a dreaded flock of
pest birds that are destructive to cereals. An average Quelea
eats about 10 grams of grain daily, nearly half its body size.
One of the most affected areas in
this region is Ngenge Sub County where the continued existence
of the birds threatens yields from other cereals that are still
have tried all tricks to contain the birds including using
bells, chasing them away, and riding round the farm with a
loud motorcycle, without success. The disadvantage with
Queleas is that when you chase them from one part of the farm,
the flock just moves a little distance and settles to continue
with the destruction. We are overwhelmed,” Kissa said.
At a vast sorghum farm ringed
inside hills in Makunga village, the loud incoherent pitter–pattering
of the birds has swallowed up the farm. Ears of sorghum stand on
numerous stalks - all without grain.
Farmers have started counting
their losses and pondering what to do next after some of them
got loans from banks to invest in sorghum farming.
Kissa explained that after
receiving a contract from a beer brewing company to supply the
sorghum, the association got a loan from the bank to open up the
the investment capital of 231,770 dollars, we expected to reap
more than 1,000 metric tons of grain. We had projected to earn
384,615 dollars from the investment. It’s a huge loss. It’s
the first time we are getting such a large number of
destructive birds,” Kissa lamented.
Philip Toskin, 42, a private
large scale cereal farmer in Ngenge Sub County said the birds
had destroyed 465 acres of his sorghum plantation.
are ignorant of ways to contain these birds. We appeal to the
Uganda government to come up with remedies to our plight lest
there will be severe famine in the district. This sorghum,
besides being used for brewing, is also used for making
traditional bread, “ Toskin said.
With an estimated adult breeding
population of at least 1.5 billion, UN’s Food and Agriculture
Organization estimates the agricultural losses attributable to
the quelea in excess of 50 million dollars annually.
The nomadic super-colonies can
grow to millions of birds, making quelea not only the most
abundant bird in the world but also the most destructive.
The birds are long-distance
migrants with a range covering well over 10 million square-kilometers
of Africa’s semi-arid, bush, grassland and savannah regions.