Crops wither in Acholi as second rainy season delays

The region hasn’t received adequate rainfall for more than a month now, leaving many farmers distraught as their crops waste away.

Maize garden wilts due to dry conditions.

GULU, UGANDA: There is looming fear of famine in several areas of the Acholi sub-region as crops are withering away due to the delayed return of the second rainy season.

The region hasn’t received adequate rainfall for more than a month now, leaving many farmers distraught as their crops waste away. The crops mainly affected include maize, rice, beans, and groundnuts that were planted in the first farming season.

Denis Okello, a farmer in Rwotobilo village told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that he may not be able to harvest anything from his garden despite spending more than 180,000 Shillings for opening the land, labour, and purchasing seeds.

He notes that the delayed return of rainfall this month has equally affected the second planting season yet he had hoped to compensate for the loss of the first season.

Okello says he is worried about having food shortages at home adding that prices of seeds for the next farming season are also bound to soar.

Geoffrey Ojok, in Layila village, Nwoya district says that the prolonged sunshine has affected the flowering of his groundnuts. Ojok anticipates he won’t harvest more than three bags from the three acres of land he planted groundnuts in the first farming season.

“I haven’t witnessed the change in weather patterns like I’m seeing now. We should have been receiving rainfall by now but look at how dry the area is, the crops are all drying because there is no water,” Ojok says and adds that although he tried irrigating his garden manually by sprinkling water, he abandoned it because it’s tedious and expensive.

Nwoya District Production Officer Alfred Kilama says the prolonged sunshine has left a trail of destruction on crops in the district arguing that many farmers are counting heavy losses. He says the delayed rainfall is also affecting farmers’ preparation for the second season planting adding more pain to farmers who are anticipating compensating for their first season losses.

Kilama says the delayed rainfall is rare and notes that the district hadn’t experienced such around this month when the region should be experiencing rainfall.

Prices of cereals especially maize have started soaring in the region due to shortages. A kilogram of maize seeds is being sold for between 2,000 and 2,500 Shillings in the local markets.

The delayed rainfalls however contradict the Uganda National Meteorological Authority [UNMA] seasonal outlook for June to August this year. In May this year, the weather authority predicted that rainfall would continue across the northern region during the months of June, July, and August.

In areas of Amuru, Nwoya, Gulu, and Pader districts in Central Northern parts, UNMA forecasted that rains would be characterized by thunderstorms and would last until late June, with a little break until mid-July with a tendency of above-normal rainfall over the region.

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