Oyam farmers desert Tochi Irrigation Scheme worth Shs28b

OYAM – Tochi Irrigation Scheme in Oyam district that the government constructed at the cost of Shs 28b to promote rice growing has been deserted after a portion got submerged into floods.

According to members of Tochi Irrigation Scheme Rice Grower Cooperative Society, they suffered a major setback after floods swept off their rice forcing a number of farmers to abandon the scheme for other enterprises.

Richard Odyang, one of the rice farmers said, by now they would be harvesting their rice, but unfortunately this disaster deflated our plan and submerged all the rice fields two months ago.

The construction of the Tochi irrigation scheme was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in 2016 and its target was to boost rice farming, improve food security and fish farming. About 1,000 households were set to benefit from the project that covers Acaba, Minakulu and Ngai sub-counties.

The five-year project was funded by the African Development Bank (ADB), Nordic Development Fund and the government of Uganda.

According to residents and the local leadership, a total of 1,200 acres were apportioned and allocated to farmers but only 621 picked up and planted. The government also constructed a store that accommodates about 15,000 tons of rice near the scheme.

“They have wasted resources because it is not helping us. Instead, we incurred losses,” Odyang says, accusing the government of not completing the construction of the scheme.

About 700 farmers abandoned the growing of rice due to consistent flooding, poor water drainage system and failure by the Ministry of Water and Environment to provide a solution to the problem.

Martin Gira, another farmer whose rice fields were submerged by floods said, if the Ministry fails to come and rectify the errors made during the construction, Tochi Irrigation Scheme will not benefit its rice growers.

Richard Obeny said, the three plots allocated to him were submerged by floods, so he failed to plant rice again.

“The three plots allocated to me have been submerged by floods yet my target was to plant and harvest 40 bags of rice,” he said.

Acaba LC3 Chairperson Amuge Charles, said they detected shoddy work in the process and within three years if nothing is done, the surrounding villages will also be submerged by floods.

“There was a lot of corruption in the process and we expect the ministry to come back and work on the scheme,” he adds.

“Seeds were supposed to be given to farmers by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries but it didn’t happen,” he says, adding that farmers purchased the seeds locally and planted them.

Oyam district LC5 boss, Benson Dila said, the government gave a good project to the district and it was supposed to transform the lives of farmers in the district but it has become the contrary.

He said, after farmers lost their crops, some decided to desert their plots and it has now turned into a bush.

“The Permanent Secretary (PS) committed that we should not over lament because the ministry is going to support and see that the defect was corrected,” said Dila.


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