Farmers shun Agoro irrigation scheme water

Members of Agoro self-help irrigation cooperative society have stopped using water from the scheme blaming it for destroying their crops and causing their gardens to lose fertility.

Agoro Irrigation Scheme was rehabilitated between 2012- 2013 at a tune of Shs 27 billion by the ministry of water and environment, to boost agricultural productivity in the area. It is used by about 900 farmers, including 187 members of the society.

However, some members of the society, who mainly grow vegetables, told theCooperator that their crops were negatively impacted after the irrigation scheme was rehabilitated.

Corina Aloyo, a farmer and member of the Agoro cooperative, watered her vegetables using water from the scheme, said the water causes yellowing and stunting of vegetables.

“I planted 3 acres of eggplants, cabbages, and beans but they all died,” she said.

Aloyo believes the same water is to blame for the cooperative’s loss of 10 acres of vegetables worth Shs. 40m, last season, which many had blamed on a mysterious disease.

Denis Ocan, another member of the cooperative, said the water caused his garden to become very hard with white patches, as though the water was mixed with salt. The result, he said would be very low yields and loss of soil fertility.

“According to my own observation, this water for irrigation has a problem. First, if you spray it in the garden, even healthy crops start changing and withering. Secondly, the garden becomes very hard and whitish and loses fertility after a short time,” Ocan said

Ocan revealed although the problem has existed since 2013, the true impact of the scheme on yields has been masked because farmers kept abandoning the gardens that lost fertility, for fertile ones.

“This water for irrigation has been used for long. But, since we still have vast farmland here, farmers have abandoned several plots that have lost fertility,” he said

Francis Todwong another member of the cooperative, adds that the majority of their members have abandoned the irrigation scheme and the gardens around it, resorting instead to farming in wetlands and virgin land far away from it.

Brenda Acao, the Communications Officer for the northern region in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the ministry is unaware of any issues with the water from Agoro irrigation scheme and has thus far received no report about the farmers’ concerns.

“As far as I know there is no problem with the water. But since the concern is from the users, we shall send a team of experts to do an assessment and understand the concerns of the users,” she said.

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