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Floods leave gardens bare in eastern region

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Flooding of River Manafwa has destroyed many crops in Manafwa District, leaving farmers devastated.

Mr Bosco Natsambwa, a farmer in Manafwa District, left his home on Friday morning to go to his garden only to find his crops washed away after River Manafwa burst its banks.

“This has been my hope because the crops I had earlier planted in the first season were also washed away,” Mr Natsambwa, a resident of Bunawuwenge Village in Wesswa Sub-county, said last week.

Mr Moses Wanda, another farmer, said the yields from his gardens have been declining over the years.

“We used to harvest enough but today, it is a different story. Although we plant much, we harvest little,” he said.

Mr Sulayi Wakalanga, the district environment officer, attributed the low yields to extreme weather conditions which have made it difficult for farmers to harvest better yields.

“When it rains, the farmers experience extreme floods and when it does not, there are extended periods of drought. This is not favourable for crop production,” Mr Wakalanga said.

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He added that there is fear of famine due to climate change effects.

“This is because of low crop yields each passing year unless all catchment areas are preserved,” he said.

Mr Samuel Mafabi, the speaker of Sironko District, appealed to government to address the economic, social and environmental effects of climate change.

“Unstable weather conditions have affected agricultural production and increased levels of food insecurity, this needs to be addressed,” Mr Mafabi said.

He said intermittent water sources such as rivers Manafwa, Sironko and Komorototo in Butebo District experience water decline to their worst levels during dry spells.

“The water levels in these rivers reduce drastically and this is partly due to increasing human activities, including farming and settlement on river banks,” Mr Mafabi said.

Mr Ibrahim Okurut, a resident of Akoboi Village in Butebo Sub-county, said River Komorototo used to harbour different fish species but they no longer exist.

“We used to get cat and lung fish from this river five years ago because then, it was still a river but now it has become a stream,” Mr Okurut said.

Komorototo is a trans-border wetland that covers Butebo, Pallisa Kibuku, Bukedea, and Kumi, among other districts.
Mr Johnson Aluburu, the Komorototo parish chief, said if Komorototo is not protected and conserved, it will disappear within five years.

Mr Deo Kabaalu, senior wetlands officer for eastern region at the Ministry of Water and Environment, blamed the worsening climate change effects on environmental degradation.

“But as government, we are on track to restore rivers and wetlands to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Mr Kabaalu said.

He said they have already started planting pillars to demarcate Komorototo wetland. Other wetlands to be restored include Mazuba-Mpologoma and Ivukula-Namakoke wetland in Namutumba District, Tirinyi –Mpologoma  and Kitantalo-Mpologoma wetland (Kibuku) , and Lumbuye wetland in Budomero (Kaliro).

The restoration project is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and United Nations Development Programme. In Tororo District, River Malaba always bursts its banks whenever  it rains, thus washing away crops and submerges houses.

The  district National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) officer, Ms Mary Evelyn Aol, said they have started planting trees on the river banks.
Ms Aol also said they have started sensitising a communities and opening boundaries for all wetlands.

However, Mr Micheal Nantulya , the Butebo District vice chairperson, advised government to create alternative sources of livelihood for the affected farmers.

“The locals are willing to vacate the wetlands but the government should provide alternative sources of livelihood because they have been depending on the swamps,” he said.

Mr Joseph Malinga, a communication specialist in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the affected locals will be given alternative sources of livelihood such as poultry, and fish farming, among others.

He said they have already trained about 96 trainers under the GCF project to help the wetland users to adapt to other sources of livelihood.

“The locals will also be trained on various income-generating activities to embark on within their communities,”  Mr Malinga said.

Wetland cover 
Uganda’s wetland coverage has dropped from 17.5 per cent in the early 1990s to 8.5 per cent while forest coverage has dropped from 24 per cent to 12.4 per cent due to human activities, according to the Ministry of Water and Environment.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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