By Tom Gwebayanga
Livestock farmers in Buyende district are facing shortage of water for their livestock following the silting of the three government valley dams.
Pasture lands have been scotched during the ongoing dry spell, while zero-grazing farmers have also ran out of hay.
The valley dams, which serve over 7,500 animals, are located in Nkondo, Kidera and Namusita sub-counties. The dams were dug by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries five years ago, yet those that the past regimes dug in the 1970s got defunct long ago.
Farmers with big stocks are forced to herd the animals to the banks of River Nile and Lake Kyoga. Nambula-Busambira, a dairy farmer from Buyende Town Council, appealed to the Government to construct one or two valley dams in each sub-county.
The district production and marketing officer, Dr Fredrick Kabbale, said diseases, such as Nagana, Foot And Mouth Disease and animal deaths are imminent, owing to the long distances the animals move in search for water.
At the onset of the dry season, the farmers and livestock technocrats pointed out the issue of lack of water for the animals to the assistant commissioner for agricultural extension/coordination, Patience Rwomugisha, who was on a working visit.
Rwomugisha was in the area to meet farmers, assess the progress of the livestock industry and also identify how they faired during the COVID-10 lockdown.
Yuniya Kakazi, a farmer from Wesunire village in Buyende Town Council, who has nine heifers under zero-grazing, said the crisis has rendered the enterprise cumbersome.
“I have three lactating heifers, which give me 40 litres of milk per day. I used to fetch the water from Nambula wetland, which silted four weeks ago,” Kakazi said.
Responding to the appeal, Rwomugisha said the agriculture ministry plans to tackle the most sensitive challenges, with water as the first priority.
“The Government deployed machinery to excavate valley dams, but due to the high demand, we need to take another decision,” Rwomugisha said.
The district veterinary officer, Dr Fredrick Kaggwa, prayed that government considers rehabilitating the defunct valley dams as it looks for funds to excavate new ones.