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Rice Farmers Abandon Agoro Irrigation Scheme As Rehabilitation Works Stall

Grace Acayo, who used to grow rice at the irrigation scheme says she had to relocate to a different section adjacent to the main course of river Okura for easy access to water.
Water pipes meant to be used for rehabilitating Agoro Irrigation scheme lying idle

Audio 5

Several rice farmers have deserted farming at Agoro Irrigation scheme in Agoro Sub-county, Lamwo District over failure to access water.

The irrigation scheme constructed in the late 1960s with funding from the World Bank has been helping to boost rice growing and vegetables during the dry season in the area once known as the food basket for East Acholi.

However, when the government through the Ministry of Water and Environment carried out rehabilitation works on the scheme in 2013, locals in the area raised concerns that the designs were altered. 

The rehabilitation works cost the government 27 Billion Shillings and targeted over 1,000 farmers in the parishes of Pobar and Ywaya.

Grace Acayo, who used to grow rice at the irrigation scheme, says she had to relocate to a different section adjacent to the main course of river Okura for easy access to water.

She says the contractor while rehabilitating the irrigation scheme constructed deep water canals which have made it impossible to distribute water to the rice farms, unlike the earlier designs.

Luo

//cue in: “Tut pa wangpii…

Cue out:…I  in kulu.”//

Isaac Lukoya also reiterates that the water canals are too deep adding that it has rendered rice farmers unable to utilize them. He says the majority of farmers are now using the rice field to grow maize and vegetables instead of rice.

Luo

//cue in: “Wang pii eno…

Cue out:…nongo pe tiye.”//

He notes that the irrigation scheme is mostly used during the rainy season adding that in the dry season, farmers are unable to access the water because of the depth of the water canals.

Luo

//cue in “Jo mokene coyo…

Cue out:…ringo kede oo.”//

Markson Odongkara Labongo, the Irrigation Superintendent of Agoro Irrigation scheme admits that the design flaws at the irrigation scheme have affected the flow of water into farmer’s gardens. He says there were also technical glitches at the time of the rehabilitation since the fields were not well levelled.

Luo

//cue in: “The canal is…

Cue out:…should have been.”//.

Following an outcry from local farmers at the irrigation scheme, the government last year embarked on plans to rehabilitate the irrigation scheme. 

The plans according to information Uganda Radio Network established will see the open water canals in the affected areas of blocks 1-8 changed with closed piped systems.

Already hundreds of water pipes were delivered last year by the Ministry of Water of Environment at Agoro irrigation scheme main offices in Agoro Sub-county. But Odongkara says the plans have stalled since last year following the outbreak of covid-19.

He notes that many farmers have since abandoned farming at the irrigation scheme after they were notified they wouldn’t be compensated if they plant their crops at a time rehabilitation work is kicking off.

//cue in: “These are parts…

Cue out:…irrigation scheme seriously.”//

Michael Odokonyero, the Speaker Agoro Sub-county has called on the government to expedite the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme.  

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