Gulu Farmers Decry Lack of Information on Weather Changes

Comments 1032 Views Gulu, Uganda
Joe Wacha

Motorised irrigation being used on a sugarcane plantation. Farmers with inadequate facilities such as this face the brunt of climate change.

In short
Farmers in Gulu want government to introduce an effective system to disseminate weather reports to enable them to properly plan for their farming activities.

Many farmers in Gulu want government to introduce an effective system to disseminate weather reports to enable them to properly plan for their farming activities. 
The farmers say the national meteorology department and the ministry of agriculture are not providing them timely information about weather conditions. They say the silence from the meteorology department is forcing them to always turn to traditional and historical means of predicting weather changes, which is also proving unreliable in the face of the current climate change.
A number of the farmers have stories about how they previously responded to false onset of rainy season only for drought to dry up their crops shortly after.
David Ngole, a farmer in Palaro Sub County says that they were excited when in late February there was rain for a number of days only for drought to come back. He said previously they would begin receiving rain by March but said up to now there is no sign of rain. He adds that they are no longer sure about when exactly to plant in order to get good harvest. Ngole says he was afraid that the delayed onset of the rainy season might cause famine.
Francis Adeka, another farmer explained that he has also been a victim of a false onset of rainy season when the seeds he rushed to plant all dried up after the rain was swiftly followed by a lengthy drought spell. He noted that over the past few years he has noticed that his expectation of rain around end of March into April does not always turn out correct.
//Cue in: “I have seen…”
Cue out: “…at night without rain.”//
Jackson Lakor, the Gulu district Agricultural officer admits the poor system of providing weather forecast reports. He however said the system is in place and only needs to be strengthened. According to Lakor, the weather information is relayed by the national meteorology department at Entebbe through the ministry to the various districts.
//Cue in: “We have a system in place…”
Cue out: “…information flow is still a big problem.”//

A weather substation in Gulu remains incapacitated and only relays data collected to the weather department in Entebbe but does not provide the feedback to farmers. An official at the office told URN that farmers could only wait for weather reports from the national meteorology Station in Entebbe.
Samuel Braimah, the Action Aid Africa Policy Officer has observed that there is need by government to institute a national policy on climate change that would provide for an early warning system through which farmers could be informed on time about the weather changes. He explained that such an early warning system would also help farmers to be able to appreciate climate change and mitigate it effects.
//Cue in: “You may have to…’
Cue out: “…inform your agricultural policy.”//
Presently, Uganda does not have a national policy on climate change despite the adverse impact of the phenomenon on the livelihood of people in the country.