Lamwo, Uganda | URN | Farmers using Agoro Irrigation Scheme in Lamwo district to water their crops claim that water from the scheme could be having substances that negatively affect crop yield and soil fertility.
Agoro Irrigation Scheme which serves more than 900 farmers was rehabilitated between 2012-2013 at a cost of Shs 27 million by the ministry of water and environment to boost agricultural productivity in the area.
However, some of the farmers told this publication that they have been noticing some negative changes in their crops and crops fields after using water from the irrigation scheme.
Denis Ocan, a user of the irrigation scheme says the problem has been existing since the scheme was rehabilitated. According to Ocan, whenever he watered his garden using irrigation, even healthy crops started wilting and the ground became excessively hard with white patches as if the water was mixed with liquefied salt.
The result he said would be very low yields and loss of soil fertility. He believes that the irrigation water is causing them the problems because it is first stored in a reservoir, and brought for use after a week when it has developed a foul smell and turned greenish.
“According to my own observation, this water for irrigation has a problem. First, if you spray it in the garden, the crops start changing and withering even when they were healthy. Secondly, after irrigation, the garden becomes very hard and the surface becomes white like liquid salt was poured in it.
Also the garden loses fertility after sometime. This water comes from Agoro hills and when it is collected, it is kept in the water reservoir for about a week before farmers start using it. And by that time, it would have become smelly and turned greenish.”
He said he started noticing the drop in his crop yield and loss of soil fertility since 2013, but since land in the sub county is still vast, farmers have been countering the problem by abandoning the crop fields that have lost fertility for virgin ones.
“This water for irrigation has been used for long. But since we still have vast farm land here, farmers have abandoned several plots that have lost fertility. But if we start using water from the stream direct to the field like before, our crops will have good yields.”
Francis Todwong, another user of the irrigation scheme reveals that majority of the farmers have abandoned the plots near the irrigation scheme and started farming around wetlands.
Ocaya Allan, another farmer using the irrigation water says he started noticing a drop in his crop yields after the irrigation scheme was rehabilitated.
He says before rehabilitation, the water was clean but now, the water is milky.
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Corina Aloyo, another farmer who uses the irrigation scheme explains that the water causes yellowing and stunting of their vegetables. She says last season she planted 3 acres of egg plants, cabbages and beans but they all died.
But Brenda Acao, the communications officer for northern region in the ministry of water and environment says as far as she knows, there is no problem with the water from the irrigation scheme, and they have not been alerted of any problem.
She however says the ministry will send a team of experts to do an assessment to understand the concerns of the users.