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Solar irrigation scheme has failed – Kanungu farmers

Solar irrigation scheme established in Kanungu district. Courtesy photo

Kanungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The solar irrigation scheme built along Ntungwa river in Kanungu district has failed to make any positive impact on agriculture on the area, the farmers have revealed. The government completed the scheme which is found in Kameme village in Kibimbiri parish in Kihihi sub county in January 2019.

The scheme was built in line with the presidential directive issued in 2017 following a public outcry on the prolonged dry spell which had resulted into food insecurity forcing families to survive on mangoes and spear grass. The crisis had affected the areas of Kihihi, Nyamirama, Nyakinoni and Nyanga.

To save the situation, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the construction of an irrigation scheme to ensure that crops do not wither in gardens. However, the farmers say the solar plant operated for less than a year and developed a fault. According to farmers, the scheme has not helped them at all.

Andrew Niwabine, Apollo Rukagyira and Sarah Asiimwe, all farmers in the area say the irrigation plant only worked for two seasons after completion. They note that they registered some positive results during the two seasons the irrigation plant was working.

Wilson Musinguzi, another farmer from Kameme village says that the irrigation plant has been dysfunctional for over a year. According to Musinguzi, he saw the scheme operating for only one month after completion.

Gideon Tabaruka, the Kameme village LC 1 chairperson, who is also a member of Kameme Rice Farmers Pilot Irrigation Scheme says the plant hasn’t served its purpose. Tabaruka says that a few months after its completion, the pipes that pump water from the river to sprinklers were clogged with sand.

He says that what angers them is that even officials who had promised to intervene by January this year did not walk the talk. According to Tabaruka, farmers are now stuck on how to plant rice because of the heavy sunshine being experienced in the area.

Efforts to talk to Godwin Nkwasiibwe, the Kanungu District Production and Marketing Officer about the matter were futile as he neither picked nor returned calls from our reporter. Gad Rugaaju, the Kanungu Deputy Resident District Commissioner told our reporter that he is not aware that the solar plant is faulty since he is still new in the district.

He promised to visit the plant before the end of this month to find out why it is dysfunctional.

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