Government has been urged to come up with a strong legal framework that can support Ugandan farmers to access water for agricultural production.
A new report conducted by Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform indicates that although Uganda is endowed with water resources, most farmers in the country rely on rain-fed agriculture.
This is mainly due to limited access to irrigation based water sources. The Limited access to water for production especially for smallholder farmers, according to the report that was conducted by Professor Moses Tenywa of Makerere University, is attributed to poor legal frame work in the country.
Some of the legal framework which the report wants the government to address is the land ownership especially when it comes to women, developing strong regulation to bring onboard public and private sector partnership in both water and agriculture sectors, among other issues.
“Government should increase investment in the water for production at all level by encouraging participation of the smallholder farmers and the private sector in financing and planning, development and management of cost effective and simple-to-use Irrigations systems for livestock and crop production,” Professor Tenywa said during the Launch of the report in Kampala last week.
Need for policy on water production
He explained that for the above recommendation to be effected, government needs to come up with a policy on water for production. He said this would encourage participation of the private sector in solving some of the challenges hindering small scale farmers to access water for production in the country.
In the report, it was observed that the current technologies on the markets are very expensive to the ordinarily farmers but through Private-Public Partnership, government can subsidize the costs and attract the private sector to avail the technologies to farmers at cheaper prices.
On Land rights, the 17-page report found that limited ownership of land by women who are the majority stakeholders in the agriculture sector has relationship to poor utilization of water for agricultural production.
“Majority of the women farmers have no ownership and control over land , these challenges have left smallholder farmers to overly depends on rain fed agriculture ,which has been affected by climate change thus continued low productivity and leading to increased food Insecurity and poverty in some farming households.
“For this case to be solved government need to streamline land tenure systems especially for women farmers and consolidation of pertinent land reforms for sustainable commercial irrigation development.” Professor Tenwya’s report reads in parts.
To ensure that farmers have access to water for production, Betty Aguti from the farmer’s voice platform said they are going to a carry out advocacy campaigns to ensure that government allocates money to support farmers to access water for production especially to small holder farmers.
“We shall engage stakeholders in government to ensure that money is available in the coming financial years to support farmers to access water for production. Without fighting for the farmers, Uganda will be food insecure since rain-fed agriculture cannot sustain food production in the country,” she said.
Resources that support Irrigation farming
According to the report, Uganda has enormous fresh water endowments covering about 15% of the total areas of the country, thus providing great opportunity for increased agricultural production and productivity , water for production is estimated to account for 60-70% of the total national water requirements.
However, only 2 % of the water is utilized for production with only 1% used in irrigation compared to the 70% of water used for irrigation world over. The low utilization of water for production has contributed to a decline in agricultural productivity , mostly for small holder farmers who dominates the agriculture sector in Uganda and mainly depends on the rain-fed agriculture.
The report recommended that government promotes the utilization of community owned solar powered irrigation systems in the major water resources for crops, livestock and fisheries production since the technology is cheap and can be easily adopted by small scale farmers.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO