Sugarcane Growing Takes Toll On Busoga Wetlands

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Sugarcane grown in Bugembe wetland in Jinja district Aldon Walukamba G

Sugarcane grown in Bugembe wetland in Jinja district Login to license this image from 1$.

In short
Sugar growing takes toll on Busoga Wetlands

Sugar cane growing in Busoga region has taken a toll on wetlands, which act as water catchment areas affecting natural water sources.  Natural water sources such as streams, shallow wells and streams have dried up in various areas forcing residents to walk long distances in search of water for domestic use. Some of the affected places visited by URN include Kasambira in Kamuli, Irongo in Luuka, Buyengo in Jinja and Nkombe in Mayuge district.

A report released by the World Wild Life Fund in 2004, shows that sugarcane growing has had diverse negative impacts on the soil, air and water in places that grow it. In Busoga region natural plants that hold water in valley wetlands have died away from strong pesticides and large clearance of land for sugar cane growing. Bufulubi village in Mayuge district is one of such places affected by large scale sugarcane growing.  Muzamir Bampalana, a resident of the area says that they can no longer plant rice in the area because of lack of water.
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Sulaiman Bagalana, Jinja District Agriculture Officer explains that clearing wetland lands for sugarcane growing has several disadvantages. He explains that wetlands are composed of peat soils that are light with a weak texture, which easily dry up once exposed to direct sunlight.  He also says that wetlands have plant which help retain water but easily dry up leading to water loss.  Bagalana says that sugarcane has little organic matter because of absorbing large quantities of water.

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Mohammed Bajje, a farmer from Kasambira in Kamuli calls on government, through the National Environmental Management Authority to intervene in Busoga to stop the cultivation of sugarcane in wetlands.

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Thomas Aramu, Mayuge district environment officer says many sensitization seminars have been organized for sugarcane farmers to consider alternative source of water and stop growing sugar cane in wetlands but the district lacks fund to monitor their activities.