Wetlands Degradation Takses Toll on Rice Growing in Busoga

4091 Views Mayuge, Uganda

In short
Rice farmers in these districts say their yields have dropped by a half over the last 6 year, because of wetland reclamation for various activities.

Wetland degradation has taken a huge toll on rice growing in several districts in Busoga region, Uganda Radio Network has learnt. The most affected district includes Kamuli, Jinja, Namutumba, Kaliro and Mayuge.

Rice farmers in these districts say their yields have dropped by a half over the last 6 year, because of wetland reclamation for various activities. Some residents in these districts have reclaimed wetlands for sugar cane growing and brick making.

Ernest Nabihamba, the Jinja municipal council environment officer says 65 percent of the wetland in Jinja have been encroached upon contrary to NEMA guidelines, which provides for the use of only 25 percent. However, those who intend to use the wetlands must acquire a permit from NEMA. He explains that activities like rice growing in wetlands are acceptable to NEMA.

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Muzamir Bampalana, a rice farmer from Wangobo a village in Busiki, Namutumba district says several farmers have given up on rice growing. Bampalana says the farmers gave up rice growing after the land was drained to channel water to Lake Victoria leaving rice fields dry.

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Samuel Wairongo, an official from Ikulwe agricultural station in Mayuge district says research shows most of the soils are salty which does not help paddy rice to grow well. He however, says the alternative use of wetlands has also had an impact on rice growing in Mayuge district.

Wairongo says sugarcane plantations occupy 60% of the available wetland area in the district, which has affected rice growing.

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Dr. Stephen Kiwemba, the production officer Jinja district says rice growing will continue going down with the continued wetland encroachment in the region. He explains that this will greatly affect household incomes and livelihood of various families, which have been dependant on rice growing. 

According to the 2012 Uganda Bureau of Statistics report, Busoga region produces 70% of Uganda’s rice worth UGX 120 billion a year.