Agriculture deputy minister Hussein Bashe said in the National Assembly yesterday when responding to a question from Singida West MP Elibariki Kingu (CCM).
In his basic question, the lawmaker sought to know the government’s plans to eradicate the quelea quelea which have been destroying many hectares of farmers’ crops in Singida.
“Farmers in the constituency are now avoiding cultivation of sorghum, maize and sunflowers fearing of the destructive birds, so the government has to ensure us on what measures it is taking to address this challenge,” the lawmaker said.
Responding, the deputy minister acknowledged that the majority of farmers in Singida and neighbouring regions have been losing their crops in farms due to the destructive birds known locally as “Selengwa’.
He said that the government is currently working to get a special permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism so as to install special traps to bar the birds from destroying the farmers’ crops.
He assured farmers in Iramba, Singida and Ikungi districts in Singida Region that it will deploy experts within next few months to fight birds which have been destroying crops in almost every season.
“In May 2020, we sent experts in Singida so as to identify the areas which are affected by the birds. In the study, the experts identified 12 villages which needed immediate help and support farmers to conduct their activities freely from the destructive birds,” the deputy minister said.
He said that if not barred the birds may destroy more farms and have more negative impacts in the economy.
Bashe said the government will from May to July, this year deploy experts to start destroying the birds.
He however noted Selengwa are among the birds listed special species so they shouldn’t be destroyed or killed without having special permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
He said Selengwa is one of the species of small parrots which are present in the country. These birds are legally recognised as species in danger of extinction since 1985.
“These birds are not migratory and they usually eat sunflower, corn, sorghum and some fruits. One bird can eat between 45 - 60 grams per day so one million birds can eat between 45 to 60 tonnes of grain in one day. So, if left unchecked, these birds could have serious economic consequences for farmers,” the deputy minister asserted.
The deputy minister noted that since 2004 the number of these birds has been increasing in Bahi (Dodoma), Singida, Iramba, Manyoni (Singida), Meatu as well as in the Serengeti National Park.
“In addition, the growth of agricultural activities to the natural habitat of birds have also contributed to the interaction of the birds and humans. The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism had sent experts to evaluate and later determine how much 30 per cent of the crops had been destroyed in 2004,” he added.
He added that the government has been using airplanes to spray chemicals that deter destructive birds but in the case of Selengwa birds, it will use special traps to fight them because the chemical spraying doesn’t work on them.