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Amuru farmers get irrigation equipment

AMURU– Amuru district local government has distributed 11 solar-powered irrigation equipment to small-scale farmers to continue practicing farming during the dry season and boost their household income.

The equipment was provided as part of a World Bank Funded Ugift program, which was launched in the financial year 2018/19.

Under the project, farmers have to first show interest that they need the equipment. The farmers contribute 25 percent of the total cost of the irrigation equipment including solar panels and motor pumps among others.

Richard Kidega, the Amuru district Agricultural Engineer and focal point person of the program, said 35 farmers would receive their machines by end of this financial year, attributing the delays to the slow procurement process.

He disclosed that 145 farmers had shown interest but most of them were unable to raise the 25 percent part-payment, which is mandatory for any farmer to get the equipment.

This is despite the fact the district council approved a budget of Shs 916 million in the current financial year to help about 100 farmers to acquire small-scale irrigation equipment for their gardens.

“Our worry is that over Shs 500mln is likely to go back to the consolidated fund as unspent funds because many farmers are unable to raise the required 25 percent [Shs2.5mln],” he said.

He added that some of the farmers who showed interest in acquiring the equipment did not have a water source within the required range of 700 metres, making it difficult for them to be considered.

Julius Oyet, a vegetable farmer, who is among the beneficiaries of the program from Labongo village in Amuru Sub-county said he was spending Shs25,000 daily on fuel to pump water into his garden, which he said was very expensive on his side.

He said the solar-powered irrigation machine would help him to expand his 2.5-acre piece of land. He said he expects to get about Shs50 million from his nursery bed and vegetable projects.

Currently, Oyet has planted okra, tomatoes, and eggplants among other vegetables.

With the solar-powered equipment, Nancy Ajok, a vegetable farmer from Amoyokuma Village, said she would now be able to send her children to school and support her family using the money she hopes to get from her vegetable business.

Michael Lakony, the LCV Chairperson of Amuru district said the beneficiaries have a ready market for their vegetables, saying most of the markets in the greater Gulu import vegetables like tomatoes and cabbages from Mbale and other eastern districts.

According to Lakony, the part payment for the program “is to discourage the dependency syndrome that has infiltrated the minds of the Acholi people.”

“It is also to instill ownership mentality on the beneficiaries so that they can own the machines.”

Lt. Pius Alitema, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner, tasked the beneficiaries to manage the irrigation equipment well if they are to serve them for a long time.

With the uncertain and changing weather patterns, Alitema said that farmers should best utilize the machines during dry seasons to water their crops.

The Ugift program is being co-funded by the World Bank in partnership with the Ugandan government. It covers i40 districts in the country. In Acholi Sub region, the program is being piloted in Amuru, Omoro and Nwoya districts.

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