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Cattle Rustling Derails Farming In Lamwo

LAMWO – Cattle rustling has soared in Agoro Sub County, Lamwo District. It has diminished the oxen herd and subsequently frustrated commercial farming in the area.

Francis Todwong, the LC-I chairman of Tumanun village in Agoro Sub County, said several farmers are unable to plough their land because there are very few oxen and tractors.

“People used to rely a lot on oxen to plough their land but the animals have now been stolen by rustlers who invade villages in Agoro Sub County nearly every week,” he said recently.

Todwong said farmers in his village now use one tractor from the neighboring Palabek Gem Sub County.

“Due to the high demand for the tractor, the owner has also increased the rental fees from Shs 80,000 to Shs 100,000 per acre. We need more tractors to help us open land,” he said.

But members of Agoro Self-Help Irrigation Cooperative Society in Agoro Sub County are lucky. In 2020, they were given a tractor by the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS), a statutory semi-autonomous body under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

Allan Ocaya, the chairperson of the cooperative, said members hire the tractor at Shs 80,000 while none-members get it at Shs 90,000 to plough an acre of land.

Ocaya, a victim of cattle rustling, said he lost two oxen and a dairy cow three years ago to rustlers. He said one ox was recovered by security personnel who pursued the thieves.

“People fear using oxen to plough their land because it’s no longer safe to use them. You have to get security men to guard you as you plough, otherwise, the South Sudanese rustlers who are always armed come and grab them in broad daylight,” he said.

Ocaya said the entire sub county is served by four tractors, which according to him, are not enough to meet the demand of over 6,000 farmers spread out in four parishes.

Cyrus Komakech, the Lamwo District agriculture officer, told theCooperator that cattle rustling has greatly affected land opening, multiplication of cattle and traditional marriage.

“Cattle rustlers do not discriminate during their raids. They take any animal they find including bulls and heifers. This has made it difficult for farmers to open large acres of land for cultivation,” he said.

“The heifers, which farmers would have used to multiply animals, are also targeted by the rustlers,” he said. 

Statistics provided by the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, James Nabinson Kidega Nok, show that over 3,200 cattle were stolen in 2020 from Lamwo District by Karimojong and South Sudanese.

The animals were stolen from the two sub counties of Agoro and Madi-Opei, which border South Sudan and Karamoja.

Kidega said 3,000 cattle were recovered while 200 are yet to be recovered.

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