ZOMBO. Farmers in Nyapea sub-county, Zombo district are counting losses after a heavy rain characterized by hailstones devastated their fields destroying hundreds of acres of crops and property worth millions of shillings.

The over five-hour downpour in the night of Wednesday also brought down pit latrines, trees, buildings and cut off electricity to Nyapea Catholic Parish.

The affected villages spread across the two parishes of Abeju and Oyeyu, and they include among others; Tengu, Alegu, Akwanzi lower, Akwanzi Upper, Pei Ziwa, Mission centre, Nyapea college and Nyarambe.

When our reporter visited the two parishes on Thursday, there were still piles of hailstone ice in the farms and pathways.

Mr Kizito Oribi, the Zombo district speaker and a resident of Akwanzi Upper village said in a telephone interview that the district had not budgeted for such eventualities, adding that the disaster committee of the district will make a report to the office of the ministry of disaster preparedness so that the affected people may get some support.

He noted that some of the crops that suffered massive destruction include; maize, coffee, beans, cassava, and banana plantations.

“This so far the worst destruction recorded in the history of this place and since we did not budget for such, we are going to do what is required on our side so that the people get some help,” Oribi said.

The chairman Nyapea sub-county, Mr Kon Omwony said the sub-county agricultural officer rushed to the affected areas to assess the level of destruction and that a write-up will be submitted to the district leadership for further management.

“We sent our agricultural officer to the areas of destruction to make an assessment and we are going to write a report that will be submitted to the district disaster committee,” Omwony stressed.

Rev. Fr. Patrick Jachan, the Parish Priest of Nyapea Catholic Parish said the affected people need urgent support following the record destruction caused to crops and other property.

“This is the first time in my life that am seeing this kind of hailstones and the people themselves cannot now do much because we are all mourning. This calls for immediate support from the government and other NGOs,” he said.

Ms Fiona Obotha, a farmer in Akwanzi Lower said she has lost hope since her only source of income is agriculture and it is from it alone that she has been able to pay school fees for her children.

“I don’t know what God has done to us this time around knowing that it’s from my gardens that I pay school fees and do other things,” Obotha said.

cassava field 26 07 19One of the affected residents walks through his destroyed cassava field on Thursday. PHOTO BY BRUNO MANANO

When contacted, the State Minister for Northern Uganda also the Zombo district woman Member of Parliament Ms Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny urged the sub-county and the district disaster committee members to expedite their assessment report in order for the ministry of disaster preparedness to take action.

She said they are waiting for the report that will inform their request for support to the affected people.

In 2014, similar destruction to crops took place in Oyeyu and Palei parishes but there were minimal interventions made, though some affected farmers are said to have received some relief in form of maize seeds among others from the government.