Residents of Lukaya Town Council, Kalungu District, have registered marked change in their livelihoods following arrival of a model rice project.
The Shs13bn project, which is run by Zhong Industries on 600 acres of land, aims to introduce low-cost rice growing and processing technology and to teach Ugandan farmers how to set up small scale rice paddocks.
Hu Jiang Hua, an agricultural expert attached to the project, said it also employs about 350 local workers.
These include planters, harvesters and driers, who are paid a daily wage ranging from Shs5,000 to Shs10,000 depending on the type of work.
Medinah Nakafeero, who used to sell gonja (roasted sweet banana) at the Lukaya public weighbridge, says with her income as a planter, she helps her husband pay rent and educate their children.
She adds that female workers have a “cash round” where the members give cash to each other with strict conditions to help their homes like buying household items, educating children and setting their own food gardens.
“When I was selling gonja, I earned a mere Shs3,000 which did not measure up with the risk of being run over while doing someone else’s business,” Nakafeero says.
Rashid Nabanyala, a planter, says her marriage has stabilised as her husband, who also works for the project, has realised that a working wife is an asset in the home.
As regards the project, Abbey Mulindwa, the engineer, said they have devised means of irrigating rice from nearby Lake Victoria to ensure it works throughout the year.
“We however do this in serious consideration of the fact that we do not encroach on the ecological system,” he added.
There is also a long-term plan to teach farmers, who are willing to participate, how to set up their own rice plantations gardens and to process the rice at a subsidised cost.
“The overriding idea is to satisfy the local and regional markets,” Hua said.
While no date is set, President Museveni is expected to officially commission the project when it gets into full production.
SOURCE: DAILY MONTIOR