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Acholi Farmers Advised to Conserve Water as Drought Bites :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Acholi Farmers Advised to Conserve Water as Drought Bites

Paul Kilama, the Gulu District Agricultural Officer says the over-reliance on rainfall no longer sustainable for smallholder farmers in the region amidst climate change.
A man opens his farmland in Gulu District. Photo By Julius Ocungi
Agricultural experts have tipped smallholder farmers in Acholi Sub-region to practice water conservation in their farmlands as the rainfall pattern remains unpredictable.

A greater part of the region hasn’t received adequate rainfall for nearly a month, leaving  farmers in tears as their first-season crops wither away.

Paul Kilama, the Gulu District Agricultural Officer says the over-reliance on rainfall amidst the devastating effects of climate change is no longer sustainable for smallholder farmers in the region.

Kilama says there is a need for farmers to shift to soil and water conservation practices to manage the current dry spell. 

For instance, he says mulching, harvesting runoff water through drainage construction, proper land tilling and cover crop growing are good farming practices that help in water retention in the garden.

“A farmer should have a close relationship with soil because soil and water management are important factors in enabling moisture retention to sustain the crops. If organic matter is limited, the soil fertility is compromised,” says Kilama.

He also advised farmers on proper seed selection, citing fast-maturing seeds that require less water intake and are best suited for the current climate change.

Alfred Kilama, the Nwoya District Agricultural Officer on the other hand notes that micro-irrigation for smallholder farmers could be an alternative for farmers currently faced with unreliable rainfall in the region.

He notes that the initiative that was rolled out by the government could help farmers end over-reliance on rain and start all-year-round crop production through irrigation.

The government launched the Micro Scale Irrigation Program in 2020 to support farmers in purchasing and using individual irrigation equipment.

Under the program, farmers are able to purchase irrigation equipment through a matching grant scheme, in which the cost of the equipment is co-financed by the farmer and the government.

According to Kilama, the program is less costly since the smallholder farmer pays only 25 percent for solar-powered irrigation equipment while the government foots the remaining 75 percent.

“Farmers should take advantage of the government program to fight climate change and continue growing crops, it is now unreliable for farmers to rely on rainfall only,” he says.

Under the government’s program, a farmer can acquire a grant to purchase irrigation equipment on farmland ranging between 1.5 and 2.5 acres.

The Eastern and Central parts of Northern Uganda are currently experiencing a dry spell that is expected to continue till mid-June, according to the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) weather forecast report for June to August.

The meteorologists predict that the region will receive near-normal (average) in most parts when rain resumes at the end of the forecast period.

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