GOVERNMENT MULLS ON CONTROL OF RARE, DESTRUCTIVE BIRDS

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AfricaPress-Tanzania: PLANS are underway by the government to dispatch experts to Singida, Dodoma and Manayara regions to fight groups of destructive birds which have been destroying tonnes of crops in the areas.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said in Parliament that the government was finalising procedures so that it can dispatch the experts between May and July this year.

Mr Bashe was responding to a basic question from Singida West MP (CCM), Elibariki Kingu, who wanted to know the government’s plans to control the destructive birds which have been destroying hectares of farmers’ crops in Singida.

“Farmers in the constituency are now avoiding to cultivate sorghum, maize and sunflowers for fear of the destructive birds, so we need to know what measures are being taken by the government to address this problem,” the lawmaker said.

Responding, the deputy minister acknowledged that majority of farmers in Singida and neighbouring regions have been losing their crops in farms due to the destructive birds popular known as “Selengwa’.

Mr Bashe noted that the government was currently working to get a special permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism so as to install special traps.

He assured farmers in Iramba, Singida and Ikungi districts in Singida Region that the government will deploy experts within the next few months to fight the 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 help farmers to conduct their activities freely from the destructive birds,” the deputy minister said.

He said that if not controlled, the birds may destroy more farms and have more negative impacts in the economy.

He however noted the Selengwa are among birds recognised as government trophies so they shouldn’t be destroyed/killed without having a 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 on earth conservation as animals that are in danger of extinction since1985.

“These birds are not migratory and they usually eat sunflower, corn, sorghum and some fruits. One bird can eat between 45 – 60 grammes per day, so a group of 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.

He noted that since 2004, the number of the birds has been increasing and are seen 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 these birds and humans. The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism sent experts to evaluate and later identified that the birds had destroyed 30 per cent of the crops 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.

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