YUMBE. Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) with funding from the German Red Cross has procured a variety of seeds and farm tools to be distributed to selected beneficiaries in Bidibidi refugee settlement.

This is part of the efforts towards improving the welfare and livelihoods of the refugees and the host communities under the Integrated Food and Livelihood, WASH, Energy, and Environment program.

The assorted seeds include cassava cuttings, beans, cowpeas, maize, groundnuts in addition to the assorted agricultural farm tools consisting of fork hoes, panga, sickles, rakes, slashers, and watering cans that will benefit refugees and the host communities in zone 5 in Ariwa sub-county.

Speaking during the launching event at Ariwa sub-county on Thursday, Mr Robert Longom the project focal person said the project started with an inception meeting last year where a number of stakeholders were involved.

"The project will target 1000 households and out the number, 5,000 shall be individuals in the three areas of Ombechi, Yangani and Ariwa 1 clusters in zone 5 settlement. The extension of the project duration will depend on the performance of the project", he said.

He said URCS with the German Red cross technical team will in October this year sit together to review certain gaps in the project.

Mr Henry Uriga, the representative of the District Agricultural officer assured the beneficiaries that the seeds given to them are genuine seeds.

"We have tested the viability of the seeds before it was brought here for distribution. Good seeds should be kept well by weeding so that the harvest is big", he advised.

Ms Jane Alejo the Secretary for social services said the refugees are hard working people and once they are given agricultural inputs, they will plant them.

Ms Jane Alejo 08 09 19Ms Jane Alejo hands over seeds to a beneficiary as other officials look on. PHOTO BY ROBERT ELEMA

"We have known that the 30mx30m pieces of land allocated to refugees by the office of the prime minister is not enough but because of coexistence and good relationship, the refugees can hire land from the host communities", she said.

Alejo also encouraged the refugees to use the opportunities of being in the camps to educate their children because it would be a reward they would go with from Uganda.

What beneficiaries said about the offer

Mr Emmanuel Khemis said: "The seeds will help to sustain our lives in the camps. Depending on the food ratios supplied by World Food Programme (WFP)is not good because at any time, food ratios may reduce and we also need to struggle on our own".

Ms Sharon Kasara said they have an interest in farming but accessing such inputs was a challenge.

"If such partners continue to support us with seeds, it will supplement the food we receive from WFP but my worry is such inputs are brought late by partners coupled with the weather situation in Yumbe because the dry season starts very early in Yumbe district", she said.