Rehabilitation works at Agoro irrigation scheme worry farmers

LAMWO – The slow pace at which the rehabilitation works at Agoro Irrigation Scheme is moving is worrying farmers.

They argue that as the dry season sets in next month, many are likely to be affected since the water at the scheme will not be reaching their farmlands.

Farmers within Agoro Irrigation Scheme, under Agoro Self-help Irrigation Cooperative Society Limited, in Agoro sub-county, Lamwo district total about 600.

They grow crops like sorghum, millet, rice and vegetables, mostly for commercial purpose.

In 2013, Ministry of Water and Environment injected Shs 27 billion into the rehabilitation of Agoro irrigation scheme in its bid to boost farming productivity among the community.

However, due to shoddy work, the facility has not helped members of the cooperative to realize their expectations.

In August this year, the Ministry of Water and Environment reached out to a contractor to carry out rehabilitation works to the tune of Shs 1.7 billion and it is expected to be finished by April next year.

However, the works have not been to expectations, looking at its slow pace.

Farmers argue that they are at cross- roads, as the canals at the scheme are too deep thereby failing the water to reach their farmlands.

The irrigation scheme has three sections; the water collection point, where water is pumped to the dam before it reaches the drainage where the water is channeled through the canals before it reaches the gardens.

However, the farmers argue that the dam is not appropriate to the drainage, something that makes it difficult for the water to reach the canals that supply water to the gardens.

The LC III Chairperson, Agoro sub-county Denis Onyon, argues that the Ministry of Water was duped when it got a contractor who also subcontracted another company that has failed to do the works to its expectations.

“Imagine from August 10th, this year, to date, it’s 2% of work done. It will soon be dry season, but we have nothing in place.”

The farmers have reached out to us leaders, but we cannot help much since several meetings called to meet the contractor have not yielded any positive result.

Allan Ocaya, Chairperson of the cooperative, tasked Ministry of Water officials to task the contractor to speed up with the works otherwise farmers are losing hope.

“If you are to look at the works on the ground and the part payment of Shs 300 million given to the contractor, the work is too small,” he said.

Ms Brenda Okao, Communications Officer, Northern region in Ministry of Water and Environment acknowledged that the rehabilitation works are moving at a slow pace.

“The contractor is on the ground working but he needs to be pushed and that is what we are doing as the ministry,” he said.

One of the farmers at the scheme, Joyce Lakaraber, who deals in cabbage growing said, the Ministry of Water should consider sourcing contractors within the district for effective supervision.

“If the contractor is from within, we can put them to task for speedy works,” she said.

Many of the members are considering pulling out, yet they feel working under a cooperative has been key in improving their livelihood at household level.

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