Government has secured a grant of over shs93 billion from the Japanese government for the construction of an irrigation system in the districts of Bulambuli and Kween along the Atari basin.
The irrigation system is intended at increasing rice production from the current 200,000metric tones to 205,000 metric tons annually.
Uganda’s rice production stands at 200,000 metric tons far below the 300,000 tons consumed annually. The deficit is met by importation from the region and the Asian countries.
The Japanese grant is to be used in the construction of a rice irrigation scheme along the Atari basin in the districts of Bulambuli and Kween in eastern Uganda.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija says, “In the next 5 years, Uganda shall not be importing rice from the neighboring and this project should start operating as early as 2022.”
According Eng Ronald Kato Kayizzi, the commissioner agricultural infrastructure and mechanization at the ministry of agriculture, the scheme seeks to ensure stable supply of water to avoid relying on the changing climate.
He reveals that, “The project targets to benefit approximately 532 households, and when the production starts the scheme alone shall produce over 5,000 metric tons of rice annually.”
Engineer Kayizzi adds that according to the design, the scheme shall have the whole value chain from developing rice seedlings to packaging the end product.
Kazuaki Kameda the Japanese ambassador to Uganda noted that rice growing is considered one of the strategic agricultural enterprises with the potential to contribute to improving rural incomes and livelihoods as well as improving food and nutrition security.
The Japanese ambassador Kazuaki Kameda expresses great optimism for the scheme. He says, “I have managed to travel most of the rice going areas in Uganda and they are promising but these farmers just need to be skilled with the latest technology in the rice growing sector.”
Current low rice yields are attributed to poor agronomy practices that affect harvests.