Amuru at risk of missing out on Shs500m for irrigation

Farmers at Ayweri Irrigation Scheme in Gulu District on February 18, 2021. Government is promoting irrigation farming as a way to counter climate change effects. PHOTO / FILE

What you need to know:

  • In the last financial year, the district council approved a total of Shs916 million to fund the acquisition of the small-scale irrigation machines for farmers in the district under a World Bank funded programme.

Amuru District local government is on the verge of losing out on more than Shs580 million meant for acquisition of small-scale solar powered irrigation machines.

In the last financial year, the district council approved a total of Shs916 million to fund the acquisition of the small-scale irrigation machines for farmers in the district under a World Bank funded programme.

However, the district officials say many farmers have not fully embraced the programme.

Mr Richard Kidega, the district agricultural engineer, says the programme targets 100 farmers per financial year. He said this financial year, they received interests from 145 farmers.

However, Mr Kidega says only 35 farmers met the requirements for whom the acquisition of their small-scale irrigation machines is underway.

Under the project, farmers have to first show interest to benefit from the programme by contributing 25 percent of the total cost of the irrigation machine as well as their land being in a distance not more than 700 meters from a water source.

Another requirement is one must be willing to undertake vegetable farming.

But Mr Kidega is now worried that with the financial ending in a week’s time, funds that should have helped farmers mechanise and modernise farming, especially during the dry season, will be returned to the Consolidated Fund.

“The solar powered small-scale irrigation machine costs about Shs10 million and paying 25 percent of that means a farmer should part with about Shs2.5 million, which most are failing to get. Actually some of the farmers who have so far received the irrigation machines borrowed loans from the bank, which again is somewhat tricky,” he explains.

According to Mr Kidega, some of the farmers who showed interest owned land, which was above the required 700-metre distance to a water source.

Mr Michael Lakony, the district chairperson, blames the delayed response to the scheme on the harsh financial times occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Politicians blamed

Mr Lakony also blames political interference in the sensitisation of farmers to register for the scheme He claims that some politicians were misinforming the farmers that the district wanted to sell their land.

He says the district will allocate funds for mobilisation and sensitisation of the masses via community engagements and radios so that more people join the programme in the coming financial year.

Mr Richard Rubangakene, a resident of Coo-rom Village in Pagoro Parish, Lamogi Sub-county, says much as the farmer contribution looks small, it is expensive in the long run since  most farmers registered low yields in the previous planting seasons.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.