LUWERO, UGANDA: Maize farmers in Luwero district are counting losses following the prolonged drought that has affected their crops. Households in 76 out of 100 parishes in Luwero district are involved in maize growing, according to the Parish Development Model household survey.
However, the dry spell has taken a huge toll on the farmers. Most of the maize plants have withered because of the scorching sunshine. Brasio Mugwanya, a resident of Bwaziba village in Luwero sub-county explains that he borrowed money from the village bank and rented land at Shillings 4 million to plant maize on nine acres.
Mugwanya also reveals that he incurred extra costs to buy quality seeds and labor but he is disappointed that the maize was affected by the dry spell before forming tassels. Mugwanya says that he doesn’t expect to harvest more than a basket from the nine acres and has since resolved to quit maize growing.
Robert Sande Mubiru, another farmer planted maize on five acres of land at Shillings 1.7 million. However, his garden had withered by the time our reporter visited.
Mubiru says that apart from plunging him into losses, he is facing food insecurity. Sheikh Abubaker Ssendege, a resident of Butanswa village says that they have resolved to slash the maize plants and prepare for another season after making huge losses.
Ssendege says that the dry spell has also affected beans and coffee living them in abject poverty. Sunday Edward Kaweesi, another affected farmer at Ndagga village has lost over one million Shillings in planting maize and appealed for seedlings from the Ministry of Agriculture to replant in the next season.
Due to the dry spell, a kilogram of maize now costs between Shillings 1800-2000 from less than 700 Shillings last year. Wilberforce Ssemigga, the Luwero District Agriculture Officer says that at least 50% of the maize crop has dried up.
Luwero district has encouraged farmers to embrace small irrigation to cope with drought.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries with support from the World Bank through the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfer Program (UgIFT) disbursed over Shillings 1.7 billion to Luwero district for the micro-scale irrigation program .
Depending on the nature of the farm and the varying prices of irrigation equipment, government contributes between 25% and 75% of the total cost of the irrigation equipment. The farmer contributes the remaining percentage. However, farmers are yet to embrace the program citing the high cost of co-funding and a lack of water sources to support irrigation.
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