More than 300 farmers from five villages in Pakanyi Sub County in Masindi district are counting losses following a hailstorm which destroyed over 200 acres of crops on Wednesday this week.
The affected villages include Kiruli I, Kiruli II, Kiruli Central, Nyakakoma and Kitanyata, all in Pakanyi Sub County, Masindi district.
Pakanyi Sub County is the food basket of Masindi district, and the only one in the entire district that is still predominantly dedicated to growing food crops as others have ventured into non-food cash crops like sugarcane.
The hailstorm levelled several maize, sugar cane, cassava, soya bean and banana plantations, among others.
According to the LC 1 Chairperson Kiruli I village, Nasuru Aheebwa, over 250 homesteads lost their crops, yet majority had taken small loans to inject into their farming.
“Many farmers from this area use money from village saving groups to do farming”, Aheebwa said.
Patrick Aguda, one of the farmers who lost 15 acres of maize is worried he will be unable to repay an agricultural loan he took from Post Bank to invest in his farm.
“I used over Shs 10m to open up the 15 acres of maize; I don’t know how I will pay it back,” he said.
Equally vexed is James Alinaitwe, a resident of Kitanyata village who borrowed Shs 2m from a village saving group in order to open up four acres of farmland for a maize plantation, and lost it all to the hailstorm.
“Now the loan is continuing to grow and I have nowhere to go. All my focus was on my maize plantation,” he lamented.
Margaret Kabaruli, the Kiruli Parish Councillor says that this is the second such destructive hailstorm to hit the area.
“The first was in 2016 and it was just as bad as this one, but we got no help [from government],” said Kabaruli who lost a calf in the latest weather incident.
“We call upon the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to come to our rescue since residents have nothing to eat,” she appealed.
Aled Akugizibwe, a resident of Kiruli Parish appealed to the Ministry of Bunyoro affairs to aid affected locals with relief items like food and planting materials.
Kabajungu Flora, an elderly grandmother taking care of 5 grandchildren lost her entire maize, ground nuts, beans and banana crop, and says she now has nothing to feed her children especially during the current COVID-19 situation.
“I am appealing to the Masindi district COVID-19 task force to give me relief food since I have nothing to feed my children,” she said.
The Masindi district disaster preparedness focal person, Richard Kiiza, said that the Pakanyi sub county chief had been instructed to assess the magnitude of the matter in order to enable them take appropriate action.
He however, attributed the continued hailstorms in Pakanyi to environmental destruction by the locals.