KARAMOJA: Farmers in Karamoja have kept on watching as heavy rains continue to pour down without using them to plant crops.
In the last week, Karamoja started receiving heavy rains that have already caused flash floods in some parts of the region.
But instead of taking advantage of the rains to grow crops, many farmers say they fear going to their gardens because of insecurity.
Joseph Kolibi, a model farmer in Sidok sub-county in Kaabong district, said all their gardens are now battlefields where the UPDF is battling cattle rustlers.
“From last year, I never prepared the garden. I thought I would be in a position to do it this year, but the insecurity has failed me,” he said.
By April, said Grace Nachap, a resident of Napumpum sub-county in Kotido district, they would be weeding their crops, but no farmer has planted any crops.
“We have been known to be serious farmers in Kotido, but this time around, my friend, there is nothing in the ground because moving out of the home to the garden is like putting a rope around one’s neck to commit suicide,” she said.
Mathew Lokong from Rupa Sub County in Moroto district said their gardens in the Kobebe grazing areas have been turned into a no-go zone.
“UPDF and police are cordoning off areas after flushing out the Turkana and Karimojong pastoralists after the killing of three geologists last month, so we have nowhere to cultivate,” he said.
Mr. Jino Meri, the district chairperson of Kaabong, said the insecurity has blocked farming in the region.
“The people have been surviving on farming, so this time around, I don’t know what is going to happen because they can’t access their gardens,” he said.
So Paul Lokol, the district chairperson of Nabilatuk District, said the government needs to speed up the operation in Karamoja so that peace can prevail in the region and allow people to do farming.
“I am afraid that next year Karamoja will face worse hunger because people will have no food completely, they won’t be able to access their gardens,” he said.
The Karamoja region is under attack from insecurity, which could bring the area back to how it was before. People were killed, animals were raided, and cars were stolen by rustlers.
Despite the presence of thousands of soldiers and police deployed to end lawlessness in the region, the rustlers are still carrying out raids and killing people.
But Michael Longole, the Karamoja regional police spokesperson, says the situation is under control and farmers are free to attend to their gardens.
“We have intensified our operations in every corner of the region. “These warriors have got limited space to carry out their criminal activities,” he said.