EU to subject Ugandan agro-products to rigorous checks over fall armyworms

The European Union (EU) will start this June subject Uganda’s agro-products to rigorous checks due to the fall armyworm, a senior government official has said.
Steven Byantware, Commissioner for Crop Protection told a farmers’ meeting that EU’s intention is to scrutinize Ugandan exports for the worms that are decimating crops.
The fall armyworm is technically classified as quarantined pest under the International Plant Protection Convention, an international agreement that aims to protect cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of pests.
Under the convention, countries are granted right to impose phytosanitary measures to stop imports of products in which outbreak of quarantined pests have been confirmed.
Byantware said the EU, one of the biggest importers of Ugandan flowers, vegetables and pepper has strict phytosanitary requirements which may require consignments from Uganda to enter through specified points of entry.
Uganda earns approximately 800 million U.S. dollars from flowers and other agricultural products annually, according to government figures.
Godfrey Asea, Director of the National Crops Resources Research Institute said government is confident that the latest field trials of genetically modified drought-tolerant and insect-resistant crops are yielding promising results.
He said the ongoing trial of Water Efficient Maize for Africa hybrids at the institution located in central Uganda, shows strong protection against both stem borer and fall armyworm pests.
«We have done our research, now we have to make sure it reaches the farmer. This is the fourth trial, and I think we have enough results to confirm victory over the pest,» he said.
Uganda however lacks a law that allows the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
Asea said the infestation of fall armyworms believed to have begun in the second season last year is an invasive Central American species that is harder to detect and eradicate than the armyworms that have previously existed in the country.
According to the ministry of agriculture, the outbreak was first reported in Nigeria before attacking southern African countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then Uganda.