Nile Breweries Gifts Farmers With Rural Weather stations
Weather prediction is a challenge that many farmers suffer especially those growing crops like barley. According to Livingstone Tumusiime, a farmer in Bufundi Sub country, Rubanda district, often they plant seeds and suffer severe moisture stress due to unpredictable rains or sometimes prepare their gardens but the rainfall does not come. “Being unable to tell the weather patterns makes us suffer poor yields so we don’t earn as much as we can from our crops,” he says. The farmer however reveals that he is expecting better performance in the next harvest because a weather station has been installed in his area. “Now we will be able to plant at the right timing after predicting rain flow. This will contribute to better yield and more profits,” says Tumusiime.
From June to date, three weather stations were installed in Kabale, Kanungu and Rubanda districts to give real-time & accurate weather information to barley farming communities by Nile Breweries Limited.
“Barley crop yield and performance is largely attributed to climatic factors among other factors. In the past it has been a big challenge to have an accurate weather prediction in the areas we are growing barley. The destructive rains, floods, acute temperature, prolonged dry spells and winds have caused widespread losses to our farmers,” says Bob Gordon Mutegeki, Agriculturist Team Leader, Nile Breweries limited.
According to Mutegeki, the company plans on installing seven more stations, one in Northern Uganda and 6 in Eastern Uganda to support Barley and Sorghum farmers. It has so far invested 65000$ (Shs240Million) in the pilot project.
The weather stations will supply in time information on rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed, soil moisture and leaf wetness. The weather station information can then be compared with the relevant satellite information. Besides helping farmers to take precautionary measures against adverse weather conditions, they will guide on the right time of sowing or planting and harvesting by forecasting temperature and rainfall.
“The weather and climate information will be used to enhance the optimal time for planting, weeding, spraying of chemicals, harvesting and drying so it will become an efficient tool to monitor daily fluctuation in the weather and thus help farmers to take precautionary measures against adverse weather conditions,” explains Theunis Coetzee Agro Manager, NBL.
He adds that the weather stations help to determine if payout have to be made in crop insurance pilot that will be run during 2020 production season B.
Over 13,000 barley farmers who work with the beer maker expect to enhance their yield and earn more money from their agricultural venture.
Mugoya Awali Ogonzaki, Secretary-General Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), said that the installations of the weather stations are a great asset for farmers as it is intended to increase the data flow and hence accuracy of the forecast for better production.
“The weather stations installed by Nile Breweries are being launched at a crucial time of climate change when majority of users especially farmers are yearning for accurate weather and climate information to increase agriculture production and maximize the application of weather and climate information for the social-economic transformation of the country,” he said.
Mugoya called for the construction of more weather stations in every sub-county and also renovates the existing ones since they are few.
“We need to build more stations; so far, the two that have been installed is a small fraction of optimal weather stations in the country, but this backs up the national program and also ensures that all farmers are provided with a comprehensive weather information service delivery to ,” he stressed
According to the director of Environmental Affairs at Alliance for Farmer Development Uganda Ms Harriet Tumushabe, issues of Elnino in the past brought mixed feelings where farmers were being misinformed about the accurate information of climate change, this resulted into wrong production patterns.
“With the acquisition of this equipment, this will improve on the accurate weather forecast for better weather update in the country, we see farmers in these areas being able to improve production following the right predictions,” she said.