Vegetable farmers in several districts in Bunyoro sub-region are counting losses because of a dry spell that has hit the area.
The farmers made the revelation during training at Stanbic Incubation Centre in Hoima city.
The training focused on farmers involved in vegetable growing. However, several gardens in the region have dried up as a result of the drought which started at the beginning of the year.
Julius Kabagambe, a farmer in Kitoba sub-county, Hoima district, said he planted green pepper in December last year, but everything has dried up.
“The water source is far. I cannot afford to get water to irrigate them,” Kabagambe said.
He said many farmers have incurred losses because the tomatoes they planted this season have been destroyed by the sunshine.
He added that they do not anticipate any returns.
“We had invested in them a lot of money and expected to earn much, but the sun has destroyed the vegetables and some farmers have started cutting down the vegetables,” he said.
Juliet Mbabazi, a resident of Buhimba town council in Kukuube district, said after being trained at the incubation centre, he started by planting African egg plants and cabbages, but due to the harsh weather they have all dried up.
“My target was to supply oil companies, but I made big losses. I had invested a lot of money,” Mbabazi said.
She said as a result, the prices of vegetables have shot up as supply is low.
“Most vegetables are sourced from other districts,” she said.
In Buliisa district, residents have been experiencing drought since November last year and several crops have since dried up.
Jackson Okello, a resident of Ngwedo sub-county, said they now depend on cassava since crops have dried.
“We have been hit by famine. Some families live on a single meal per day because they cannot afford the cost of food,” Okello said.
He said two tomatoes now sell at sh500 and some residents have given up on buying them.
Andrew Byakutaga, the prime minister of Bunyoro kingdom, said recently while visiting farmers that the kingdom is promoting urban farming as one way of boosting food production.
Byakutaga asked vegetable farmers to grow produce that adheres to international standards if they want to reap big from the oil and gas industry in Bunyoro sub-region.
He said many farmers are not making much money from the vegetable export market because they are using the wrong seedlings and pesticides.
“We are preparing our farmers to start production on la arge scale so that they will be able to supply the oil and gas sector. The demand is going to increase,” Byakutaga said.
Wilson Wairindi, a retired agronomist and Bunyoro kingdom minister for production, said farmers should embrace organic farming.
He said the kingdom with other partners has been training the farmers in organic crop production.
Wairindi said the skills are aimed at teaching the practising of sustainable organic agriculture with the use of cheap organic inputs on farms to boost crop performance in gardens.
These include making organic fertilisers and herbicides on the farm.
Irene Businge, a farmer in Kinubi in Hoima city, said she harvests over 90% of crops even during the sunny days because the moisture in the soils is kept by the organic fertilisers.
“Farmers should embrace organic farming. Even in the dry season, the losses are minimal,” Businge said.
Businge said organic fertilisers also kills weeds and pests and have been embraced by farmers in the area.