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Butaleja Dsitrict: From troubling starvation to top rice producer

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The rice gardens for outgrowers at

Rice gardens for outgrowers at Doho Rice Scheme . Photo by David Mafabi 

By David Mafabi

Posted  Thursday, November 28  2013 at  02:00
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BUTALEJA- Many people associate the district with rice growing. However, there is more to Butaleja than the expansive Doho Rice Scheme.

Butaleja is a district in eastern Uganda. It’s named after its main town of Butaleja, where the district headquarters is located.

Butaleja as a district is only eight years old. It was created from the greater Tororo District in July 2005.

Once an embarrassment for Tororo due to its high number of deaths resulting from starvation, today the district stands tall with a five-fold increase in rice production since 2006.

It is currently ranked fourth highest rice producing district according to statistics at the agriculture ministry.

Administratively, Butaleja District is made up of 10 sub-counties of Mazimasa, Budumba, Himutu, Naweyo, Busolwe, Busabi, Kachonga, Butaleja, Busaba, Nawanjofu and two town councils of Butaleja and Busolwe.

Population: According to the National Census of 2002, Butaleja District had an estimated population of 157,500. The annual population growth rate in the district is 3.3 per cent. Using those statistics, it is estimated that the population of Butaleja in 2010 is approximately 204,300 people.

Economic activities: Rice growing is by far the major economic activity since it doubles as both food and cash crop. Butaleja is predominantly an agricultural district with about 95 per cent of the population involved in this activity.
Rice growing gained prominence in 1970s, following the establishment of Doho Rice Scheme by government. The scheme was set up for commercial rice growing.Today, it is dominated by rural small-scale farmers living in areas adjacent to wetlands.
Although the soils in the area have largely been described as sandy and are characterised by low organic content, the Doho Wetland is an important ecological flood plain for River Manafwa from the highlands of Bugisu where the fertile clay and volcanic soils are got.

The view of many farmers is that agricultural utilisation of wetlands could be improved. It is, therefore, perceived as a prudent solution to their ever increasing demand for farmland.

Doho Rice Scheme has more than 2,500 acres of land and more than 9,000 farmers involved as both out-growers and part of the scheme growers.

Besides, the district is also involved in subsistence agriculture. The crops grown include: millet, maize, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, rice, cotton, ground nuts, cassava, sorghum with a few people keeping livestock and poultry.

The increasing population drives people to clear more trees to obtain alternative sources of livelihood as they begin to experience effects of climatic change like longer and hotter dry seasons and increase in tropical diseases. They have shallow wells and boreholes as water sources for household use and for their livestock but hardly any for supplementary irrigation.

Primary schools: There are 111 primary schools, 18 secondary schools and four tertiary institutions distributed in all the 64 parishes that make up the 12 sub-counties of Butaleja.
Each of the 64 parishes has at least one primary school and every sub-county has a secondary school.

Number of children: There are 109,290 Children in the district of which 42,397 are vulnerable children with 12,761 being Orphans. A number of Civil Society Organisations are implementing Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) interventions in the district and these include; World Vision International, Child Fund and UWESOThere are 2,556 OVCs.
The literacy rate is 64 per cent.

Big players in Butaleja

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