Uganda: Farmers Want To Turn To Irrigation As Drought Drags On

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Chris Mugasha
August 15, 2014

Thousands of farmers in Uganda’s western district of Kasese want the government of Uganda to help them start irrigating their gardens following continued dry weather that is causing food shortage.

The district has up to 13 rivers. But farmers there have continued to lose their crops as a result of drought. Now the farmers believe that the solution is taking advantage of these rivers to irrigate their gardens.

One of the main rivers there is Nyamwamba which often bursts its banks causing mayhem in the district. In May 2013, River Nyamwamba burst its banks causing floods that left at least 10 people dead.

Several farmers in the district are now crying foul after the dry weather that started in March this year devastated their plantations.

Mubuku government prison farm is one of the worst affected. Farming efforts of inmates at this prison were wasted after their 300 acres of a maize plantation dried up.

“We were going to utilize all the rains because we planted in time but unfortunately we stopped receiving rains in March immediately after we had planted. We are expecting zero yields,” narrates the Officer in Charge of this prison Ronald Kalali.

People looking at part of Mubuku prison's maize garden which has dried due to drought
People looking at part of Mubuku prison’s maize garden which has dried due to drought

According to Kalali, from the 300 acres of land, they had planned to harvest 10 bags of maize per acre.

Currently the 500 inmates at this government prison are relying on food from farms of other prisons in the region.

Kalali insists that the lasting solution to such a problem is irrigation.

Peddy Munyanzikwiye, Kasese District Agriculture Officer says that the district is not financially able to expand the Mubuku irrigation scheme to cover more farmers. “There isn’t much we can do,” she says.

She however says they have started on mini-irrigation schemes beginning with Muhokya area where they constructed a system which can irrigate 200 acres.

Part of Mubuku prisons maize garden which has dried due to drought
Part of Mubuku prisons maize garden which has dried due to drought

Munyanzikwiye notes that they plan to establish more mini-irrigation schemes.

The World Food Programme-WFP estimates that more than 20 million people in Africa are on the brink of starvation.

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