Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of Uganda’s economy, with 75 percent of the labor force engaged in agriculture production. Agriculture presents a great opportunity for poverty alleviation, although it is still perceived by many as a practice of the elderly, illiterate and failures in the “main stream professions”, yet 50% of the population is 15 years of age and younger. It is needless to say therefore, that creative technological innovations would take agriculture a much longer way in getting embraced by the youth who make 75% of the economy’s productive age group.
Balton Uganda’s main focus for this year; is irrigation in light of the increasingly unpredictable rains and prolonged droughts that have rendered production close to impossible in the last year alone. We have therefore come up with innovative value-for-money 360 degrees solutions within the small holder farmers’ reach. To mention but a few, we have made available;
- Greenhouse farming kits in 3 small holder kits
- Open Irrigation Kits in 5 small holder Kits (from an eighth of an acre to 1 acre)
- Water harvesting Kits (from 50,000 liters to 300,000liters)
- Crop Nutrition and protection kits of all value chains.
- Community trainings on technology Know-how.
(As depicted in the pictorial below)
Pilot Projects Underway
Poor rainfall conditions stimulate significant migration of pastoralists and livestock from the arid to the sub humid parts of Karamoja, with large percentages of arid lands have witnessed reductions in their crop production. With one annual rainfall season yet with and vast lands suitable for agriculture, irrigation was the only hope for sustainable food security and improved livelihoods in this area.
This is a region characterized by thorny plants and grasses. The savanna becomes green with the first rainfall, in April, but dries up fast in November, when the rain stops. The long dry spell is very windy, and there is no surface water, except for puddles left over from the rainy seasons, which quickly dry up. River beds fill up in a few hours during storms, and dry up again after the storms pass.
Cabbages grown being grown in Karamoja under irrigation system done by Balton Uganda Limited
Irrigation for agriculture
Food is essential for human beings as well for their sustenance. Before Irrigation, the people of Karamoja satisfied their hunger by eating fruits from the forest and drinking milk from their herds. Slowly demand for solid has grown and the need to grow food increased.
Water for vegetables to cater for house hold nutrition
Under a pilot project by the First Lady Mrs. Janet Museveni, the karamojong started cultivating and growing crops, Agriculture is slowly becoming an occupation. Karamojong primarily depended mainly on rainwater to water the crops, but nature did not hold up, droughts were severe and there was a consequent lack of harvest. There was a need to water crops somehow, and so they started to use water from ponds, streams and rivers to water the crops, hence resulting into Karamoja’s first pilot irrigation venture
Water was critical not only for food security but for human survival as well. Water scarcity has been a cause of civil unrest and conflict in this region since time in memorial. And water consumption has increased at more than twice the rate of population growth over the past 5 years due to population growth.
To sum it up, Uganda is deliberately focused on farmer’s use of smart technology like Irrigation as one of the methods towards improving sustainable supply of food at the house hold level.
Farmers are being supported by Government and different NGO funding programs to help farmers come out from the long ferocious cycle of poverty due to prolonged droughts, in addition to creating role model farmers within the Karamoja arid area. This is contributing to rural responsiveness to new technology transfer besides capacity building, Government has openly started advocating and promoting irrigation as a must have amongst rural and semi-urban small scale farmers, under a campaign “Uganda under Irrigation.”
Balton Uganda has since aligned its focus to Irrigation to be relevant to current Governments focus on Irrigation and we are partnering with Government on most irrigation projects all over the country.