For some years now, the Ugandan farmer has experienced adverse weather conditions that are affecting productivity and food security.
Though 76% of our population depends on agriculture for a livelihood, there is hardly any investment in irrigation.
For centuries we were gifted by nature and most of the country received two adequate rainy seasons every year and our agriculture flourished on this natural provision.
Currently, only 1% of the agricultural land in Uganda is being irrigated so whenever the rains fail as is the case now, most of the small and medium scale farmers suffer the adverse effects of the weather.
“There is no way you can engage in commercial agriculture when you do not have water,” Teddy Wabomba, a farmer in Soroti says.
This is why she decided to invest in water.
Wabomba is now able to practice crop production all year round because she has water for production.
Her enterprises include pineapples, passion fruits, water melon, tomatoes, pigs, bee-keeping and poultry. On her farm are three main sources of water.
First she harvests all the water on all the roofs around the farm. This includes a three-roomed structure, the pig house which is about 40x20feet long.
She put valleys (engogo) on the two structures, which trap water and direct it into several tanks and a reservoir. This cost her about sh4m.
She also sank a deep well from which she draws water using a pump. This entire system cost her about sh5m.
She also dug a water dam to invest in more water for her farming activities.
Wabomba uses the water to irrigate her crops-mainly using drip irrigation and for her pigs. To use the drip irrigation system, she set up drip pipes on over an acre, including some in the passion fruits and water melon.
“I use a pump to push water up into a hoisted tank, then use gravitation forces to take it to the farm,” she explains.
But besides the improvised water sources that Wabomba uses, the farmers in Teso can also start using the various rivers, for example river Awoja near Soroti, lakes like Bisina and other smaller rivers for irrigation.
“It is embarrassing that with all these water resources, you farmers can still cry about the dry season,” Josephat Byaruhanga, the Agriculture Policy Officer at the Embassy of the Netherlands, said.
These include the money-maker irrigation pump (maker hip pump and max pump) targeting small-scale farmers.
The solar-powered and engine powered irrigation systems with sprinklers, pumps, durable water pipes. Others include overhead water guns, drip irrigation systems, underground water drilling systems, water pumps and boreholes.
What to know before irrigation
- Identify the water needs of your enterprise. Needs for livestock are different from those of crops. Coffee or trees need more water per unit than vegetables. For vegetables, overhead sprinklers are better while for trees drip irrigation is better.
- Have a source of water. This may be a dug well, a dam or a river or stream.
- Identify the best method of taking this water to the crops. –
- Consider your budget, go for a system you can afford.