“The Environmental Police are burning rice fields and slashing tomatoes planted in wetlands in Lira, Greater Lango, Teso and Acholi. But areas along Masaka and Fort Portal roads have rice farms extending to the road that have not been touched,” said Odur.
While raising the matter of national importance in a plenary sitting on Thursday, 03 March 2022, Odur said that the country is recovering from a dry spell and the inflexible evictions of farmers from the wetlands will adversely affect them.
“Let these people be cautioned and allowed to remove the food crops they have grown because people do not have food. Let them be given a grace period of three or six months to get their food out,” Odur added.
Sheema District Woman MP, Hon Rosemary Nyakikongoro, however, said that the evictions in wetlands were not being done selectively.
“I have heard complaints from my area where they have cleared coffee in Bugonji sub-county. The issue is now giving prior notice to persons farming in these areas,” Nyakikongoro said.
Hon Herbert Kinobere (NRM, Kibuku County) reiterated the call to go slow on destroying food crops planted in wetlands saying the livelihoods of many locals will be affected if there are no alternatives.
“My prayer is that there is a process of transition. We need to protect our wetlands but these people have been surviving from there and the only hurdle we face is how to get them out,” said Kinobere.
Bukooli Central MP, Hon Solomon Silwany urged Government to hold engagements with people farming in wetlands to sensitise them on wetland protection and its benefits to the ecosystem.
Deputy Speaker Anita Among said destroying food crops already grown in wetlands was uncalled for adding that it would be prudent to let the locals harvest their food first before their eviction.
“But the people must respect the law. After they get their crops out, they must be advised not to repeat the same thing. It is incumbent on all of us to protect our environment,” Among said.
Government Chief Whip, Hon Thomas Tayebwa, said that the alternative growing crops in wetlands would be fish farming.
“Government is committed on this matter and I will ask the Environment Minister to bring a comprehensive report on wetland protection to the House, in two weeks,” Tayebwa said.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.