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Experts tip farmers on rain harvesting

A happy cocoa farmer

A happy cocoa farmer

The Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (Esaff ), an agricultural-based non-governmental organization, has advised farmers to harvest rainwater if they are to guard against any drought on their crops.

Ronald effects Bagaga, the Policy and Advocacy officer of Esaff, told The Observer recently that although Uganda has experienced heavy rains over the last two to three months, he is doubtful many small-scale farmers have not taken advantage of the weather.

“Oftentimes, when the rain falls, you realize that much of that water just drains into the ground, or is run-off, flowing through the water channels, straight into the lakes and catchment areas like swamps,” Bagaga said.

Bagaga added that if there was a deliberate effort to harvest this water, so much positives would come out of it for farmers, especially in dry areas. There are areas with soils that do not keep water long enough, or receive small amounts of rainwater.

While many farmers out there perceive water harvesting as such a high-end intervention, Bagaga argued that it is not the case. Bagaga explained that there are cheap and affordable ways of harvesting water.

“One can dig up a pit. On the inside, the soil walls and the floor of the pit can all be surrounded by polythene of a sizeable gauge, in order to keep the water from sipping out into the earth,” he explained.

For example, to harvest at least 1,000 litres (50 jerrycans of 20 litres each) of rainwater, one needs a pit that is three square metres, and three metres deep. This amount of water is enough to irrigate at least a quarter of an acre everyday of a vegetable garden.

Lillian Mandera, who grows rice on one acre of land in Koboko district, says she has only one rainy season in a year. She said harvesting rainwater is an intervention she needs to start considering. Only then, will she be able to grow her rice all-year-round.

jovi@observer.ug

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