Budaka farmers protest fees on use of wetland

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By Mudangha Kolyangha

Posted  Wednesday, December 4  2013 at  00:00

Farmers in Budaka have protested the district council’s move to charge them user fee before allocation of Namatala wetland for growing rice and other activities. Describing the move as “unfair”, they claimed the resolution would only suffocate farmers more.

The wetland covers Kamonkoli, Naboa and Lyama Sub-counties. Most farmers entirely depend on this wetland for growing rice, yams and sugarcane.

Boost revenue
“This wetland has been around for decades and we have been cultivating with no strings attached. This move will be blocked and will not be applicable,” said Moses Muswane, one of the farmers.

As local government grapples with budget cuts, last month, authorities in Budaka District passed a resolution to parcel out the wetlands to farmers at a fee in to raise local revenue.

District chairman, Arthur Wakko Mboizi, explained that the proposal was for every farmer to pay Shs10,000 as a user fee. “The district came up with this strategy after most of its activities are being affected by budgetary cuts, so we had to find an alternative source to boost local revenue,” he said.

Organised manner
“We have talked to the concerned farmers about the fee and tasked them to form committees that will handle the allocation of blocks upon payments at their respective Sub-counties,” he added.

The natural resource officer, Kezire Nakendo, said, “Protecting these valuable ecosystems are the responsibility of the district but this one has been done to assist farmers in an organised manner”.

The wetland is to be separated in two zones—protected and production zones. There will be also buffer zones and no-go areas along the wetland to limit encroachment and these will be enshrined in the bye-law that is in offing.