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Farmers Worried About Unpredictable Weather

GULU - Farmers of Paicho Central Kal Growers Cooperative Society Limited, [PCKGCS] in Paicho sub- county, Gulu district are expecting low yields of beans this season, following a prolonged dry spell.

The farmers said last season they got low yields of beans and groundnuts because their crops were affected by sunshine and hailstones.

The sub-county has for the past three weeks gone without rain. This has caused fear among the farmers, who say their beans, which have already started flowering, might not produce much.

Josca Lacaa, a member of PCKGCS, said last season she planted an acre of beans which could have given her three bags if the weather conditions were favorable. However, the crop was greatly affected by sunshine and hailstones.

“I still plan to harvest it, but I don’t expect to get a full bag,” Lacaa said.

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Besides beans, she also planted an acre of groundnuts which would give seven sacks under good weather, but is sure she will not get more than two bags after harvesting.

Lacaa who planted an acre of beans this season, is now afraid of a repeat of the poor harvest, following the absence of rain.

“The rain is really affecting us and we cannot progress with these kinds of poor harvests because when the crops start flowering, the rains disappear,” Lacaa said.

“Now the rains have disappeared and the leaves of my beans have started yellowing,” she added.

Margaret Atoo, another member of the cooperative, planted two acres of beans in June but she is equally worried that the inadequate rain will affect its yield.

“If the rains return now and are well distributed, then the crops can improve, otherwise, we might register losses like last season,” Atoo said.

Simon Opiro, the chairperson of the cooperative said he planted 3 acres of beans but the sun is going to affect the quantity of harvest.

“With adequate rain, I can get at least 3 bags per acre, but because of the unfavorable weather, the best I might get will be two bags per acre,” Opiro said.

In March this year, officials from Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) advised farmers to start using the Weather Information Dissemination System (WIDS), an application it developed together with Makerere University to help people individually monitor weather changes.

To access weather information through the application, a user needs to either type *255*85# on any mobile phone and respond to prompts, or use a phone or computer connected to the internet and browse http://www.wids.mak.ac.ug/wids/, and respond to questions as those sent to their mobile phone.

However, the application seems to be working in reverse. In June this year, the information provided by WIDS forecasted that from June, July and August, there would be an increased likelihood of normal with a tendency to above normal rain or enhanced rainfall conditions over the northern and eastern parts of the country, while the remaining areas are expected to receive near-normal conditions.

Farmers have however said, they have not been receiving rain for the past three weeks, and fear that the prolonged drought might affect their crops like it did last season.

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