Reconstruction of Tochi Irrigation Scheme resumes in Oyam district

OYAM – After farmers counted losses and deserted the Tochi Irrigation Scheme in Oyam district due to over flooding, Ministry of Water and Environment has recalled the firm which was undertaking the construction works to correct the defects.

The construction of a Shs 28b irrigation scheme to promote rice growing rendered the beneficiaries unconvinced after the contractor abandoned the site over unclear circumstances sparking off public outburst.

Its construction started in 2016 with funding from African Development Bank (ADB) strictly to boost rice farming, improve food security and fish farming. It was set to benefit 1,000 farmers from Acaba, Minakulu and Ngai sub-counties.

But farmers under their umbrella, Tochi Rice Growers’ Cooperative Society suffered a setback after some of their rice fields were submerged into water and crops swept off.

Richard Anyuru, the mobilizer of the scheme says the contractor, Ambitious Construction Company in joint venture with HV Devoc International have returned and started correcting defects which include; bush clearing, destroying anthills and opening channels which was not done.

He says with the new development, as Tochi Rice Growers’ Cooperative Society, the members have increased to 800 and are waiting for the completion of the scheme and kicked off planting for the first season.

“There were challenges in the construction work and the contractor has been recalled and has started work,” he said.

Anyuru says the cooperative has just completed only one year and they want every rice grower to register under the cooperative. Membership and registration fees according to Ayuru is Shs 60,000.

“You register at Shs 10, 000 and buy shares starting from Shs 50,000 and above if you are willing to be a fully recognized member,” he said.

The Acaba LC3 Chairperson, Charles Amuge said that as a leader, he was sidelined and denied opportunity to secure a plot in the scheme and had not been furnished with the information about the cooperative.

He further said when he demanded for a plot for rice growing, he was instructed to pay Shs 80,000, a move which he rejected.

“There are so many issues in that scheme and as a leader I completely don’t have any information about the scheme and the cooperative,” he said.

Last year, a total of 1,200 acres were apportioned and allocated to farmers but only 621 picked up and planted.

Efforts to reach Richard Cong, the Chairperson of Tochi Rice Growers’ Cooperative society to throw more light on the cooperative were futile as he didn’t pick our calls.

Chris Ongom, the district LC5 Councilor of Acaba said, though farmers experienced challenges last year, this year there is hope that they will start gaining.

“Under the cooperative, the government will open fields for the farmers and offer seeds for planting and lastly the scheme was constructed and handed over to farmers,” Ongom says.

He says, he interacted with many farmers and confessed that though some of them suffered a setback but there were people who reaped big.

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