As food prices continue to shoot through the roof, farmers in Luweero are not taking chances with their produce. Farmers in the district with crop in their fields have started village groups to monitor their plantations to ensure thieves do not steal their produce from their gardens.
The Luweero farmers claim that during the festive season, thieves often strike in the afternoon. The thieves sneak into plantations and gardens and harvest produce they take to sell at the local markets. The most sought after crops are bananas (matooke) and cassava. To counter this, many farmers have started increasing the number of hours they spend in their gardens.
The farmers from villages such as Bukuma,Kigombe,Mamuli A,Mamuli B,Nsozibiri among others have formed groups of four for night patrols. Individually, some farmers have taken further precautions.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network,Ezekiel Muwonge a resident of Mamuli B village in Luweero sub-county, says he no longer leaves his plantation during the daytime. He has lunch brought to him by his family as he watches over his plantation.
Muwonge says he learned a bitter lesson after losing ten bunches of matooke over the last two seasons to thieves. As a result of the loss, he ended up feeding his family of eight on cassava, beef and rice which they did not enjoy.
Hasifa Nakafeero of Bukuma village says her family takes turns to watch their gardens. While she cultivates and tills in the gardens in the morning, she sends two of her children to monitor them in the afternoon up to aroun 3pm. They are then relieved by another group who take over to up around 7pm.
Yusuf Kazibwe of Kigombe village has tamed two dogs to act as guard dogs in his plantation. He was forced to resort to this method after he spotted two young men cutting down matooke in his plantation and he was unable to apprehend them.
Kigombe Lc1 chairman Micheal Ntege admits that security in the district has been wanting hence the measures by residents. During a village security meeting, it was also resolved that foot patrols be initiated to fight the thieves on the loose.
Samuel Bamuzibire, the Luweero District Police Commander, says that the force welcomes the locals initiative. He appeals to the residents, however, not to take the law into their own arms. He calls upon them to work hand in hand with the police to arrest these agents of insecurity so the district can have a peaceful festive season.