Notes to broadcasters
Farmers in the Kibaale District of western Uganda face a number of challenges. One of the main challenges is crop irrigation. Weather patterns have become unpredictable and unreliable. Traditionally, rains fell from March to May and from August to November. The midpoint of these rainy seasons usually marked the peak rainfall intensity.
Farmers time their farming activities to coincide with the expected weather. For example, during dry months, farmers prepare land, harvest and dry crops. In wet months, they plant seed and apply fertilizer.
But for the last several years, the weather patterns have changed. Rains can come during any month, including those which used to be relatively dry – December, January, February, and June.
One solution to this unpredictability is to harvest as much water as possible, store it safely, and apply it to crops during dry periods or even droughts. But individual farmers cannot afford to purchase conventional irrigation equipment such as treadle pumps and sprinkler kits. Fortunately, in many parts of Kibaale, there are wide rock outcroppings with flat surfaces. Much water can be collected from these rocks during rainfalls, and stored for future irrigation.
This script shows how an agricultural officer has devised a method to capture rainwater from a large rock outcropping and channel it into a cement underground tank. So far, the method has been used only to provide water for domestic animals. However, the water could also be used to irrigate vegetables, bananas and other crops during dry spells. In Kibaale, it is thought that the district would finance the construction of the underground tank, which is the most costly part of the system.
Do farmers in your area irrigate their crops? If so, find out whether they use innovative methods to capture and store rainwater for irrigation? If they do not irrigate their crops, why not? Is there a lack of technical knowledge, or a lack of funds? If there are large rock outcroppings in your listening area, would your district government be interested in experimenting with capturing irrigation water from rock surfaces? Perhaps the scheme could also be financed by farmers’ groups.
Programme signature tune.
A short piece of music.
Contributed by: Anthony Lwanga, Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio, Kagadi, Uganda.
Reviewed by: Chris Reij, Center for International Cooperation, VU University, Amsterdam.