After bearing the effects of the dry season, maize farmers in Masindi partly attribute the problem to unreliable weather updates from the meteorological department. The farmers say according to forecasts for the first season, rain was anticipated up to the end of June, which was not the case.
Ali Mpangire, a maize farmer from Kijura in Masindi Municipality, says instead the season was characterized by unreliable rainfall leading to outright crop failure.
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Mpangire had to clear about 20 acres of his 45-acre maize garden after the crops withered prematurely.
James Musinguzi, a maize farmer from Pakanyi Sub County lost 25 acres of his 30 acre garden of maize due to drought. He has already cleared the affected part in preparation for the next planting season. Musinguzi says he no longer trusts the weather forecasts since what is predicted is not what actually happens.
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In the neighboring Hoima district, the effect was no different from Masindi. Dr. Charles Kajura, the district production officer, says most maize and rice gardens have dried prematurely while in the pastoral areas of Buseruka pastures have dried forcing farmers to move to graze and water their animals.
The production officer meanwhile partly concurs with the farmers on the unreliable weather forecasts. He says for the last season rain was predicted to last until the end of June, which never happened as rains had stopped by end of April.
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The district production officer however, encourages farmers to always plant early to avoid such losses. He says his office is also sensitizing farmers on drought resistant varieties as remedy. The current dry season leading to crop failure has led to food shortage in areas of Karamoja causing starvation.
On Friday, Hilary Onek, the minister for relief and disaster preparedness, said at least 530,000 people face starvation as a result of the prolonged drought.