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Frustrated farmer cuts orange trees over strange disease

Helen Icaku picking dry oranges from the cut down trees.

Serere, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | A farmer in Bugondo Sub County in Serere district has cut down his 20 acre orange garden following an outbreak of a strange disease.

63-year-old Paul Opio cut down his orchard in Opucet Village, which has been earning him at least Shillings 10 million annually after realizing huge losses.

Opio started planting oranges in 2009 and has since diversified to other crops like water melons, tomatoes and bananas among others.

With other farmers under their association, Otiteba Farmers and Fisheries Association, Opio has been supplying oranges to Soroti and Busia in Kenya.

But two years ago, he started recording low yields from the farm, something that compelled him to seek advice from Operation Wealth Creation and agriculture extension workers in the sub county.

Opio explains that the cost of maintaining the oranges shot up beyond the earnings from the orchard following the strange disease outbreak.

He revealed that he used to earn at least Shillings 5 million from the oranges every season but the earnings reduced to about Shillings 1.3 million.

Helen Icaku, one of the orange farmers under Otiteba Association, says they have resorted to planting pine trees instead. She explains that the trees started drying causing the oranges to fall down before maturing.

Caroline Asekenye, the Serere District Agriculture Officer, said she is yet to receive information regarding the strange disease attacking orange trees in the district.

She, however, regrets the decision of the farmer to cut down the trees, adding that her team will visit the farm to establish details about the strange disease.



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