A section of farmers in Karamoja sub region in north eastern Uganda have appealed to the government to prioritize construction of irrigation schemes if it is to address food shortage in the region.
The farmers, led by the vice Chairperson, Karamoja Farmers Association, John Lokol, said their efforts to compete with other regions in terms of food production are constantly frustrated by drought.
“Our soil is very fertile when it’s raining but most times we have little rain. If the government could only construct an irrigation system in the region every household would have gardens and food at home,” he said.
Joyce Nachap, another farmer and a resident of Lorengewdat Sub County in Nabilatuk district, said Karamoja region will continue to experience hunger every year and its people will depend on handouts from NGOs until its water scarcity challenges are resolved.
“We are tired of begging, we are tired of surviving on handouts. Our people are very energetic, but we are being disappointed by nature- especially the little rains, which make it difficult for the region to produce enough food,” he said.
The district Chairperson of Kaabong, Mark Abuku, seconded the farmers’ appeal, arguing that that constructing irrigation schemes in the region would much work better than valley dams that dry up within four months.
“Government, through the ministry of water, spends about Shs 600mto construct one valley dam, and each parish has about four valley dams. If these monies were to be collected and used to build one irrigation system that can cover the whole region, more people would be able to do farming,” he said
Francis Kiyong, the district LC V chairperson of Amudat, also wondered why the government is spending huge amounts of money constructing unreliable valley dams instead of allocating those resources towards constructing an irrigation scheme in the region.
“We appreciate the government’s support in constructing valley dams, but these valley dams dry up very fast as soon as rain stops. If we had an irrigation system, water would be available throughout the year,” he said.
When contacted, Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said that the government has plans to address Karamoja’s water challenges.
“We are addressing the shortage of water for production in Karamoja,” he told theCooperator, adding that the government is keen on empowering the region to become self-sustaining.
Karamoja region, located in the north Eastern Uganda, has the worst human development indicators in the country. The semi-nomadic pastoralist region is increasingly prone to climate extremes, experiencing a long period of dry spells, rendering it extremely vulnerable to hunger.
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