Monday, 1 February 2016
THE RAINS SEEM TO BE GONE. ON GROUND, YOU HARDLY FIND FARMERS WITH WATER TO IRRIGATE THEIR GARDENS.
Thanks to NRM's focused leadership for 30 years now.
KAMPALA, Uganda - The failure by government to provide water through irrigation projects has been cited as one of the biggest bottlenecks small scale farmers are facing.
Famers say commercial banks are worried about the side effects of Climate Change which adversely affects both crop and livestock production.
This puts farmers at a higher risk of defaulting on bank loans.
Robert Kirumira, a small scale farmer from Mpigi District said: “Commercial banks are now considering irrigation as a conditionality which farmers should be applying in both crops and livestock production before they secure agricultural loans from the financial institutions. With irrigation in place, crop and livestock production cannot be severely hurt by the devastating effects of Climate Change.”
He said irrigation can help farmers sustain their crop and livestock production. The same point was also raised during a recent Farmers Voice platform meeting organized by CARITAS Uganda and Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum –( ESAFF) Uganda.
It was pointed out that countries like Egypt has an extensive government supported irrigation programme, but Uganda has done nothing to avail water for production especially to the small scale farmers who make up the biggest numbers in the agricultures sector.
The agriculture sector in Uganda has been hit by prolonged dry spells since 2012 and continuing into 2013. These drought periods have caused the sector to register declines in production, and consequently pushing up prices for both foodstuffs and dairy products.
However, a senior officer with the Ministry of Water and Environment told East African BusinessWeek the government has worked on the rehabilitation of three major irrigation schemes in the country. He promised the rest will be worked on in the financial year 2014/2015.
Engineer Richard Cong , the Commissioner for water for production said: “The Ministry with the support of the African Development Bank managed to raise Ush 66 billion (about $25 million) to finance the reconstruction of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme. Other schemes like Doho in Butalejja and Agolo in Lamwo Districts were worked on and are now operating. We hope if we get enough resources in the financial year 2014/2015, more schemes will be worked on.”
He said since 2000 to 2013, the Ministry has managed to construct water projects for production facilities totaling to 711 in 54 districts. Out of the 711 facilities, 278 facilities are under the community management system and the rest are privately owned but under private public partnerships. This translates to 71% availability of water for production facilities in the country.
According to a sector report from the Ministry of Water and Environment for the financial 2012/2013, the cubic volume storage of water for production by the end of 2013 has improved from 27.3 million cubic meters of water by the end of December 2012 to 27.5 million by the end of December 2013.
When asked how the Ministry will improve on the water storage for production the Commissioner said with support from the African Development Bank they intend to construct 10 medium scale and 50 small scale irrigation schemes across the country.
George Asiimwe, the Advocacy and Communication officer at ESSAF asked the government to ensure that small scale farmers are catered in these upcoming schemes. He said most government irrigation schemes only cater for the commercial farmers at the expense of the small farmers in the country.
Cong said their responsibility as a Ministry is to construct water sources and develop both transmission and distribution lines to individual farms. Then it’s the responsibility of the farmers with the support from the Ministry of Agriculture to construct the traverser canals in their gardens or farms and operate the irrigation systems.
Communities that have access to irrigation facilities like in the Mubuku irrigation schemes have not been affected by the dry spells because they have the capacity to produce crops all year. This has enabled them sign contracts with seed multiplications companies to provide seed on large scale.
By Samuel Nabwiiso, Monday, June 02nd, 2014