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.
//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
//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.
//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.
//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
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.