President warns elements engaged in damaging river banks

Monday 19th March 2012

President Yoweri Museveni has warned people involved in acts of destroying the country’s rivers by failing to observe the basic environmental practices.

Speaking yesterday at State House, Entebbe, to the delegates from the Ankole Region in South Western Uganda at the ongoing Zonal Conference on Poverty Eradication and Enterprise Selection, the President observed some people have been damaging the environment surrounding River Rwizi in Mbarara district by depositing waste from the neighbouring abattoir. The river is a major source of water for Mbarara Municipality itself and a number of outlying other towns in the area.

The Ankole Region comprises the district of Buhweju, Bushenyi, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kiruhuura, Mbarara, Mitooma, Ntungamo, Rubirizi and Sheema.

Mr. Museveni also explained that some people in the area have planted eucalyptus trees along banks of various rivers which, he noted, disrupts the natural flow of the rivers. He said that such practice adversely affects the lakes into which the various rivers flow.

The President strongly advised all the stakeholders to embark on fish farming that it would not only benefit the farmers directly but would also ensure the sustainable use of the river resource.

Mr. Museveni who decried the practice of land fragmentation said that to derive maximum benefits from the already fragmented pieces of land would require the stakeholders to select and engage intensive enterprises. He, however, warned that the practice of "land fragmentation must stop now", saying the country cannot afford to import food.

He gave the example of extensive farming and noted that for one to derive maximum benefit from cotton and maize, it would require a farmer to have 20 and above acres of land. He, therefore, suggested that the small land holders could engage in the production of bananas, fruits, piggery, poultry and mushrooms in order to derive maximum financial benefits so as to be able to address their domestic needs successfully.

President Museveni told the Ankole Region leaders that there is need for Uganda to produce more for the export market. He expressed happiness to note that the current national tea production level has increased to 59 million kilogrammes fetching an income of US$ 92 million.

Regarding development programmes in some areas of the Ankole Region, Mr. Museveni that the Government would work on bulk water transfer project in Isingiro district as part of the measures to facilitate irrigation in the district. He pledged to provide tractors to efficient cooperatives. He told the leaders that government will facilitate the purchase of tractors under the private public partnership arrangements to ensure that as many farmers as possible can benefit.

Turning to Buhweju district, the President advised residents and other related areas that have acid in their soils, to intensify the cultivation of tea and sweet potatoes which crops do well in acidic soils. He also said that hatcheries and feed mills are to be established near farms which use the products. He encouraged them to cultivate fruits so as to answer to the high demand for fruits on the export market.

Prime Minister, Mr. Amama Mbabazi, reported that Government is prioritizing the production of fertilizers in Tororo district. The area is known to have the second biggest phosphate deposits in Africa.

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