Coffee farmers in Ntungamo District are dealing with the effects of a dry spell that occurred between July and September. While other parts of the country have been experiencing abundant rainfall, leading to floods in some areas, Ntungamo District has been facing a different challenge.
Many farmers in this region have seen their coffee plantations suffer due to the extended dry season. Some of these farmers had transitioned to coffee farming, believing it to be a more profitable endeavor compared to their previous engagements, such as cattle keeping.
Mr. Immaculate Tumushabe, a resident of Obuyora Village in Rubaare Town Council, shared his experience, saying, “We were encouraged to grow coffee as an alternative crop. We invested a significant amount of money and time in planting and nurturing our coffee gardens. I initially planted 2,000 trees, but now I’m left with about 500.”
Similarly, Mr. Francis Karyeija of Kabungo in Rwenanura/Kakukuru Town Council noted, “We had just begun harvesting when this dry spell hit us. It’s not just coffee; some banana plantations were also affected, and some people lost their cattle.”
These affected farmers are calling upon relevant authorities to provide support for irrigation and better-quality seedlings. They emphasize the importance of finding markets for their produce and the need for additional training to address such challenges in the future.
Mr. Johnson Amos Kanyesigye, another coffee farmer who lost more than eight acres of coffee, stressed the importance of organization and training for farmers. He believes that with proper organization, quality seedlings, and support in areas like irrigation, they can better withstand challenges like dry spells.
The dry spell has impacted over 10,000 farmers in Ntungamo District, according to Ms. Esther Atwiine, the Ntungamo District Agriculture officer. She mentioned that while the district had received funds to support small-scale irrigation, the available funds were insufficient to assist all affected farmers. She also pointed out that some of the challenges stemmed from poor practices and the availability of low-quality seedlings in the market.