Farmers urged to embrace irrigation to boost yields

Kayunga RDC Ms Mariam Kaberuka, (3rd L) inspects a solar panel used to power an irrigation  technology during the  ceremony. PHOTO/ FRED MUZAALE

Small-scale farmers in Kayunga District and other parts of the country have been advised to transition away from rain-fed farming, which is susceptible to drought, and embrace micro-scale irrigation to increase crop yields.

Speaking as chief guest during the micro-scale irrigation programme exhibition held on Monday, Ms Mariam Kaberuka, the Kayunga deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) said that with the increasing adverse effects of climate change such as prolonged drought farmers, need to irrigate their crops to enhance yields. 

"Because of climate change, we are now experiencing changes in weather patterns. Sometimes we experience long droughts and other times floods. This calls for change in the way we do our farming by embracing micro-scale irrigation "the deputy RDC noted.
The micro-scale irrigation programme under UGIFT is funded by the World Bank to support farmers across Uganda to purchase and use irrigation equipment. 

Under the programme, a farmer pays 25 per cent of the total cost of the irrigation equipment while the remaining 75 per cent is paid by government.
Ms Kaberuka, who said most of the smallholder farmers are capable of purchasing irrigation equipment given the cost-sharing arrangement with the government, also noted that many people are still poor because they have failed to embrace commercial agriculture.
She echoed President Museveni's call to farmers not to divide their land into small pieces arguing this impedes commercial agriculture and mechanization.

During the ceremony, local farmers and irrigation equipment suppliers exhibited their products. 
Ms Zubeda Namwanje, the Kayunga district senior agricultural engineer said a total of 654 farmers in the district had registered under the programme but noted that only 116 had received irrigation equipment.
She said the other registered farmers had not received the equipment because they had failed to pay their 25 per cent as agreed. 

She asked the government to lower the percentage farmers pay under the cost-sharing to 5 per cent in order to make it easy for more farmers to join the programme. 
Dr Charles Jga, the Kayunga district director for production said the programme’s main objective is to modernise agriculture to enhance agricultural productivity.