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Hundreds of Weather Stations Dysfunctional

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Sarah Namubiru, the Luweero District Production Officer, says farmers have repeatedly made loses due to lack of information on weather and climate changes. She explains that farmers in Luweero district who planted crops in February this year have already lost their seedlings because they mistook the scanty rains to be the onset of normal rains.
Farmers on field tour at Sam Matovu farm at Kiwamirembe village in Kikyusa Sub county ,Luweero district.

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More than half of the weather stations across the country belonging to Uganda National Meteorological Authority-UNMA are dysfunctional or were vandalized, the Data Center Manager, Godfrey R. Mujuni has revealed. According to Mujuni, less than 400 out of the 1400 weather stations installed across the country are dysfunctional.

The weather stations were installed in schools, tea estates, airfields, Sub County and district headquarters among other areas. Mujuni says the Authority plans to install 16 new weather stations in various parts of the country to monitor weather and climate changes.

He however, says they still operate with a limited number of staff, which affects the timely collection and release of weather information to farmers. As a result, Uganda National Meteorological Authority-UNMA has started encouraging medium and large scale farmers to install private weather stations on their farms.

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James Bataze, a Senior Meteorologist at Uganda National Meteorology Authority, says most of the agronomical practices such as ploughing, the type of crops to be grown, weeding and spraying among others depend on whether, which makes its important for farmers to monitor the weather pattern.

He also argues that farmers may not be able to fight disease outbreaks if they don't have information on weather and climate changes, which partly cause the problem. UNMA has promised to train farmers on how to read and interpret the collected data to enable them make appropriate decisions.

Sarah Namubiru, the Luweero District Production Officer, says farmers have repeatedly made loses due to lack of information on weather and climate changes. She discloses  that farmers in Luweero district who planted crops in February this year have already lost their seedlings because they mistook the scanty rains to be the onset of the normal rains.

According to Namubiru, once the farmers install weather stations on their farms, they will be able to know and implement mitigation measures to minimise losses resulting from natural disasters. A rain gauge costs slightly more than Shillings 100,000 on the open the market.

Some farmers have welcomed the advice and asked government to make weather station equipment readily available. Livingstone Kategeya, a farmer in Kamira Sub County has welcomed the campaign, saying this is the way to go if they are to survive in agriculture. 

He however, wants government to ensure the weather station equipment is available and subsidized for farmers. Sam Mwanje, another farmer has also welcomed the advice, but asked government to revive the policy of establishing weather stations across key government institutions to help agriculture officers to generate and share information with farmers. 

According to Mwanje, this will help farmers who may be unable to collect and interpret the data for themselves since many of them are illiterate. Currently, 1.3 million Ugandans are in need of food relief due to the adverse effects of climate change resulting into prolonged drought.

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