KOBOKO. Political and technical leaders of West Nile region under their umbrella organisation ‘West Nile Development Association (WENDA)’ are moving towards discouraging tobacco growing in the region with the aim of protecting the environment.
Speaking during WENDA meeting at Jabara agricultural vocational institute in Koboko district on Friday, the leaders said tobacco growing has diverse effect on climate change in the region because of the rate at which farmers are cutting down trees for curing the crop.
“Tobacco is one disease that will keep killing the future of agriculture in the region,” said Mr George Adoko, the Koboko district chief administrative officer.
Adoko noted that in West Nile, people give more time for growing tobacco than other crops; an act he said is greatly affecting the environment.
He said by stopping tobacco production among farmers, some of the challenges the agriculture sector is facing in the West Nile region can be minimized.
“I, therefore, advise that if we want to develop, let us make priorities for the region in terms of identifying suitable crops for farmers like it is the case in other parts of Uganda. If you go to Lango, they will talk about sunflower, in Bundibugyo, they talk about Cocoa and in Luwero, it is pineapple growing that identifies them agriculturally,” Adoko stressed.
Mr Lawrence Adiga, the Maracha district chairman suggested that putting in place bylaws and ordinances against tobacco growing will help in solving some of the challenges the region is facing in agriculture.
He said the increasing rate of encroachment on wetlands for tobacco growing is one of the biggest practices that have led to harsh climatic conditions in the region.
Adiga proposed that the targeted ordinance on tobacco growing should also restrict idleness so that everyone is made productive in the agriculture sector.
During the meeting, the leaders also blamed West Nile MPs for not cooperating with them in making the region a better place to live in.
“Our target is to see that we leave a legacy in our communities especially by fighting poverty and promoting agriculture but our MPs are not cooperating with us in achieving this dream,” said Mr Hassan Nginya, the WENDA chairman.
Nginya who also doubles as the Koboko district chairperson said there is need to involve redundant youths in productive activities so as to fight poverty in the region.
Meanwhile, the director of AbiZARDI West Nile region, Mr Kassim Sadik said the current innovations the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) has come up with will help to spur development in the region if farmers are incorporated in the program.
“In the last ten years, NARO has looked at productivity enhancement technology where so many varieties of crops are produced with high yielding quality and resistance to diseases. If farmers plant such crops in large scale, they can come out of poverty,” Sadik advised.
However, he warned that in some few years to come, if the environment is not protected, people will start to migrate in search of a favourable environment.
Sadik called upon WENDA leaders to support the community by sensitizing them on matters concerning land and environmental protection.