GULU– High prices of fuel have forced farmers in Gulu district to stop the use of tractors in the opening of their farmlands as they prepare for the new planting season.
Currently, diesel in Gulu costs Shs 5,500 a litre, an unaffordable price for about 553 smallholder farmers under Cwero Cooperative Union found in Unyama Subcounty, Gulu district.
Some farmers have now resolved to ox -ploughs and hand hoe usage, methods they say consume more time compared to when using tractors to open up farms.
According to Charles Okello the chairperson of Cwero Cooperative Union Limited, many farmers cannot afford to buy the expensive diesel that tractors use.
“Diesel is now at Shs 5,500, a litre as compared to the earlier price of Shs 4,750, something that makes it hard for cooperators to afford especially those who want to open on large scale,’’ he said.
He asked the government to address the issue of high prices, saying that farmers in the district are frustrated that they are unable to purchase diesel for tractors to open farmlands that provide sources of income to the masses.
He said at the moment many farmers have reduced the acreage ploughed since many cannot afford expensive fuel.
One of the farmers James Onekalit said he has opened about five acres of land for farming, which is below the 10 acres he had planned to open before the fuel prices shot up.
“ I will not be able to realize my planned income since I have to reduce on the soybean growing from three acres to only one and maize to only three while cassava will only be on one acre as well,’’ he told theCooperator.
The Cooperative received the tractor in 2019, through Naads having been ranked among the best in the country with a stable bank account and good production.
District commercial officer Patrick Lakica Ojok, advised farmers to look for better alternatives to ensure that they clear their farmlands for the new season.
“With fuel prices, there is nothing much that can be done but farmers should revive the traditional methods of ox-plough so that not all is lost. There is also need to have priority in enterprise selection especially those on demand as opposed to what they had planned for earlier,’’ he said.
Farming is seasonal and no one knows when the fuel prices will reduce, so it is on that ground that farmers are advised to get alternative means so that livelihood is still realized in homesteads, he advised.
Fuel prices have put many Ugandans on their toes as many have parked their vehicles since they cannot afford them. However the government has not come out clearly on the matter, it instead argued that it’s a global rise in crude oil.
Cwero Cooperative Society Limited was established in 2015, with the first registered members totaling 67.
The cooperative has 70 percent youth, who have ventured into enterprises like soybeans growing, maize production, poultry keeping, and piggery.
There are also 12 community groups registered with Cwero Cooperative Society.
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