Chris Mugasha. Pictures by Chris Mugasha
July 8, 2013
Hundreds of hectares of plantations of both food and cash crops in Kasese, Rubirizi and Kamwenge districts have been destroyed by drought leaving residents worried of a looming famine. The farmers are now calling on the government of Uganda to fund irrigation schemes in regions to help prevent farmers from making loses.
Farmers say the area is endowed with many rivers including River Nyamwamba which burst its banks recently but no efforts have yet been put in place to tap the waters. “There are rivers here in the district, but we are not tapping them due to lack of capacity as farmers,” said Adam Bwambale the Nyakatonzi Growers Cooperative Union secretary manager.
The most affected crops are maize, beans, millet, G.nuts, rice, cotton, coffee and sun flower among others.
Some few lucky farmers are likely to harvest little food for consumption but not for market as they had targeted, according to the Nyakatonzi Growers Cooperative Union treasurer Moses Nuwagaba.
This has come up as a result of climate change which has caused changes in seasons where by the drought started in May a month farmers expected rains.
Nuwagaba is also the secretary for Kyambura zone under Rukooma farming cooperative union in Rubirizi district where over 1000 hectares of maize, beans, millet and G.nuts have dried off.
Speaking to WaterSan Perspective, Nuwagaba says the issue of farmers depending on traditional science whereby they rely on predictions has left them in loses. He said, “farmers need information about climate change that is real to guide them.”
Nuwagaba said some times the meteological department officials need to change the approach and capture the information of each area instead of basing on data gathered from regions. “Things have changed so they should also change the approach because sometimes they say it will rain in a certain district but it doesn’t rain,” Nuwagaba said.
He said farmers are not yet even sure when they should prepare to plant. Nuwagaba however said, “rains will start early according to our observations because it disappeared early so it may come early.”
Nuwagaba noted that an area like Kasese which is fertile would require government to intensify irrigation schemes to help farmers.
He also said there is decline in cotton production which he attributed to price fluctuations, weather conditions, vermins, wild animals and poor methods of farming. He explained that since 2010 cotton production has been diminishing. “Farmers planted a lot of cotton basing on the shs3000 per kilogram which they received in the 2010 season but to our surprise the price has diminished to shs1200 per kilogram.”
Bwambale said they had received orders from international organizations like World Food Program to supply them with maize but adds saying they are not sure where they will hit the target. Bwambale further noted that as a result, they have land which is lying idle.
In the other side of Kasese where there is Mubuku irrigation scheme, crops are doing well as the vegetation is somehow green in some parts but fruit farmers are complaining of a break out of fruit diseases.