Always keep irrigation in mind 

Michael J Ssali

What you need to know:

  • When a farmer is in a position to supply water to the soil any time of the year, he will very likely have crops to sell when many other farmers don’t have any due to rain shortage. He will have the food crops during a period of scarcity and he is very likely to sell at his own set price.

Farming heavily depends on water. It is the reason most farmers in Uganda plant crops in the rainy season.

Our agriculture is described as rain-fed. The best thing however, would be to grow crops all the time of the year since there is demand for food throughout the year.

To achieve this, farmers should consider the practice of supplying water to the soil when there is no rain.

It is called irrigation and all farmers should always have it in mind. When a farmer is in a position to supply water to the soil any time of the year, he will very likely have crops to sell when many other farmers don’t have any due to rain shortage. He will have the food crops during a period of scarcity and he is very likely to sell at his own set price.

Irrigation seems the way to go with the arrival of the effects of climate change such as recurrent long droughts. Irrigation is technically described as the artificial application of water to crops or the soil because of rain shortage. 

During the dry period the soil heats up and cannot facilitate seed germination or crop growth.

Irrigation modifies the soil temperature and allows plant growth. It mitigates soil erosion by wind since the soil is wet and rather heavy. Some pests such as the black coffee twig borer which wreak more havoc during the dry season are brought under control and rendered less harmful by irrigation since the coffee twigs remain strong and vigorous.

Irrigation can increase the land under crop production because it can be done in arid or semi-arid regions.

Many countries along the river Nile including Egypt would not be economically strong without irrigation. Uganda is fairly well endowed with rivers and other water bodies and my contention is that if we concentrated enough on developing irrigation our agricultural production could exceed that of Egypt.

All we really need is good water channels infrastructure. If we can build an oil pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania why can’t we set up water pipes from our many lakes and rivers to regions where crop and livestock production are hampered by water scarcity?

Fortunately nowadays financial institutions are willing to give credit to farmers. Farmers may take the lead by borrowing money to purchase irrigation equipment such as water pipes, sprinklers, and water pumps.

Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,

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