What you need to know:
- We are no longer in doubt that predicting the weather is now a tough call and makes the day-to-day activities of a local farmer difficult.
Uganda is known to be an arable country, unlike countries in the northwest of Africa.
Many less fertile countries around us envy our endowment, coming from God’s random distribution.
We are blessed with so much that sometimes we are not sure of how we should harness this Almighty blessing.
It is, however, hard to think that hundreds of our people are dying of hunger and starvation. A lot of the food we consume is actually imported, even from countries that see rains less often than we do.
We know that the consistency of rains has not been the same in recent years. It does not rain like it used to previously, and it has been difficult to predict when the rains will return and when they will stop, thus, making life hard for us.
Things about the weather are quickly changing. However, even with this, God continues to bless our land because when these rains return, it is with the amounts that are detrimental.
We only need to figure out how we should deal with such amounts of rainfall, and put it to proper use. Nowadays, we experience two extremes; prolonged, severe dry periods and heavy rainy season, which at times are a hazard to life, property and crops.
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We are no longer in doubt that predicting the weather is now a tough call and makes the day-to-day activities of a local farmer difficult.
Many local farmers are at pains counting their losses following the poor rainfall of the first season of 2022. In many areas, crops dried up during extended dry periods with no rain. As a result, subsistence farming is now at a disadvantage.
The livestock communities have had a rough time too. They seem to be stuck with their livestock because there is little or no water for their animals.
The vegetation has dried up and their herd does not have food. With such seasonal variations, farmers are bound to face disaster and their livelihood will be on the brink of heavy losses.
On the other hand, the prices of food in the market continue to increase, since there is scarcity due to a poor first season. So, the problem of food insecurity looms large.
But what does this problem tell us? It tells us that the frequent periods of poor weather changes should make us prepare well. For, we could establish regional food banks to store food that people can benefit from during such hard times.
We need to establish a system where the government buys surplus food from local farmers and preserves it to assist during periods of scarcity.
This will prevent deaths occasioned by starvation and hunger. It will also be a good source of livelihood for local farmers.
However, to achieve this, farmers need to accept that the timing of seasonal rainfall reliability has now become difficult and adopt certain practices such as irrigation.
Irrigation will help in periods of delayed return of the rains or during inconsistent rain. Also, the system of tapping the underground water could help a great deal, to provide water for crops and livestock.
Drilling boreholes and wells should not be too costly for farmers to afford. Where feasible, these facilities should be made available to local farmers.
Water trucking should become commonplace and be extended to the cattle communities as well. This provides local farmers with constant water supply.
Farmers should also consider planting weather-resilient crops. Inconsistent seasons are here to stay and farming as a business requires such versatility. Therefore, as the climatic conditions continue to change, we must adjust accordingly.
Mr Simon J. Mone is a civil engineer.