By Watchdog reporter
President Yoweri Museveni pro-poor irrigation skills he showed off in Luweero attracted lots of criticism. Critics wondered why the president of 30 years would still return to his political Mecca with anciet farming methods.
Mr Museveni has encouraged farmers in the country, who are engaged in crop production, to instill in their minds the culture and practice of growing crops all year around using any improvised means of irrigation scheme to combat drought spells.
“The science of pumping water from a water source to a reservoir at a higher altitude, then pump it to the farm and irrigate the crops with help of solar powered water pump is the way forward for Uganda,” he said.
He observed that once the system is installed, it only requires more solar panels to increase the capacity for extension use to more users.
“The dry season is no longer a problem. Free water is available and people cry over drought season. The dry season is for those who are not enlightened and the uninformed. Even developed countries, which receive minimal level of rain level, have their agricultural practice on irrigation,” he added.
The President was commissioning a solar water pumping irrigation system at Kyerero village, Nyamihanda Parish near Muhanga Township in Bukinda, Rubanda county, in Kabale district.
The system was installed on the farm of Mr. Charles Kwehangaana Rutaro following the President’s pledge in 2010. Farmer Kwehangaana Rutaro grows apples, a variety of passion fruits and other crops on a two-acre piece of land. The enterprise earns him Sh43 million per year.
The purpose of the installation was to demonstrate applications of solar water pumping as an economical and sustainable option for irrigated agricultural production.
While inspecting the project, President Museveni said that the purpose of his visit to the farm was to assess the effectiveness of solar water pumping irrigation scheme.
He, therefore, tasked the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, former NAADS and the Ministry of Water and Environment, to install in the districts of Kabale, Kiryandongo, Masindi, Kaberamaido, Soroti, Katakwi, Kumi, Mukono and Luuka solar water pumping irrigation schemes. He reiterated government’s commitment to distributing more solar water pumps to the people.
“What I wanted to prove was the science behind the cost of locally established irrigation scheme”, he said.
Addressing rally following the tour, the President told the people of Rukiga County that a good leader is one who guides people to shift away from mass eradication of poverty through modern methods of farming with accountability in mind. He, however, strongly warned them against agricultural practices in wetlands.
He commended the people of Rukiga County for voting the Movement overwhelmingly during the 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and council level elections saying that this symbolized massive politically uprooting of the opposition from the area.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr Vincent Ssempija, State Minister for Planning, David Bahati and State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations and area MP, MP Herbert Kabafunzaki, accompanied the President.