Farmers in Acholi and Lango sub-regions are smiling all the way to the bank as the market for their produce is fast expanding and engulfing the famine-stricken West Nile. Gone are the days when West Nile, particularly Nebbi's Okoro County, used to be the food basket of Northern Uganda as a severe famine is fast taking catastrophic proportions. Tom Ufoyuru, the Nebbi District Production Officer, says dozens of trucks enter West Nile daily, delivering much needed foodstuffs like cassava, millet and sorghum flour, beans and rice. This is the reverse of the foodstuffs flow just over three years ago when much of northern Uganda literally depended on Okoro County for food. And with them, the Acholi and Lango food traders are going home with lots of money. A kilo of cassava flour goes for over 3000 shillings, triple the price in Kampala. The famine situation is as dire as Ben Opoti, a resident of Nebbi town, explains: //Cue in: If you see # Cue out: # people will die// Ufoyuru attributes famine in the region to low production of staple foods especially cassava and beans and the ever increasing food demand especially in South Sudan. Ufoyuru explains that traders in South Sudan after failing to get sufficient food stocks from markets invade homes and gardens where they pay higher prices upfront. The lucrative market, adds Ufoyuru, prompts most farmers to sell all they had including food meant for their own subsistence. Ufoyuru further explains that most people in West Nile love cultivating cassava as the major staple food hence anything that affects cassava production tends to cause famine. He says they have launched a campaign to encourage farmers diversify into fast maturing and better nutritious food crops like Irish and sweet potatoes, maize and bananas. Ufoyuru says West Nile and Okoro and Arua's Vurra County still have the potential of feeding the entire northern Uganda if the farmers are empowered. Opoti says there is so much redundancy that most people especially the youth have abandoned farming for handouts or petty businesses.
Updated: 15 Jul, 00:5400:54
Tagged with: food
About the author
In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."