Farmers in Kyondo cell, Nyamwamba division, in Kasese municipality, are crying foul as their crops start to dry up due to flooding of River Nyamwamba close to a month ago.
More than 20 banana and maize farmers have called for government intervention to rescue their crops which started drying up a week after devastating floods submerged their gardens in Kasese town.
God Friday, a farmer, told theCooperator that his banana plantation which was healthy before the floods started drying up a week after the incident. To date, he has lost six acres of plantation.
According to Friday, this has set him back significantly since he has been harvesting 50 bunches of matooke fortnightly, from which he earns Shs 1m on average.
“As you can see, my plantation is drying up; it was submerged in the flood, and the silt deposits are five feet deep, hence making it difficult to clean,” Friday said.
On top of selling matooke, Friday says that he has been distilling waragi, a local gin.
“I have been earning Shs 640,000 every two months from my waragi sales, which is no longer possible,” he said, adding that he had also lost paw paw trees , sugarcane, and cassava all of which had dried up.
“I do not know how I am going to feed my family,” Friday said.
Zainabu Kemigisa, 55, a resident of Kyondo cell of Scheme ward, reported that all her tomatoes and ground nuts have started drying up as a result of River Nyamwamba’s river flooding that hit the district on May 7 and 10 respectively.
“All my gardens that were not submerged and destroyed by the water have started drying up. I was expecting Shs 5m from my tomatoes that had started flowering, and about Shs 3m from the ground nuts, but all that is gone now. I have nowhere to start from,” Kemigisa said.
She appealed to the authorities for help in combating the phenomenon that has mystified the affected farmers.
Explaining the phenomenon, Johnson Sabuni , the Senior Agricultural Officer, Kasese district, confirmed that the crops are drying up due to water logging and sand deposits in the affected gardens, resulting in suffocation.
“While water is necessary for plant growth, it becomes bad when in excess. It suffocates the roots of the plants, depriving them of air. Many more crops are going to dry up as a result of the flooding,” Sabuni said.
He added that in crops like bananas, coffee and maize, you expect a close to 100% death rate, while for yams and sugarcane, there is some degree of survival .
He appealed to farmers to wait before planting afresh, warning them to avoid farming in river beds which are more prone to flooding.
However, Sabuni ruled out allegations of toxins from heavy metals like copper and zinc from Kilembe copper mines as a possible cause of the drying, saying the impact of such toxins would have been immediate while, in the instant case, the withering of the crops took some time to manifest, pointing to suffocation.
Meanwhile, the affected farmers have accused leaders of neglecting them during this time of crisis.
Kemigisa, a mother of six, noted that she is stuck economically and will be unable to feed her children, unless the government comes to her rescue.
“Even when we lost our food crops and bricks, not a single leader apart from the LC I Chairperson has ever visited us to give us food for our families . We are struggling and yet we heard that other people are getting relief,” she said.
Samuel Ngakaya, another farmer whose crops are drying up as a result of the floods also affirmed that they hadn’t received any support from area leadership after losing their crops. .
Emmanuel Katuramu , the area chairperson agrees that his area has been neglected in terms of receiving relief items .
“We [residents] have lost over 100 acres of food crops , bricks and houses. A total of 627 were affected by the recent floods. We have cried to the municipality for help, but nothing has been done for us,” Katuramu said.
However, Kasese district Resident District Commissioner (RDC) said that all individuals affected by floods would receive food and non-food relief items. He appealed to those who had not yet been reached to be patient as “the government is doing all it takes to help them out of their problem.”